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New figures reveal trends in Australia’s COVID-19 deaths

New mortality data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that most people who died from COVID-19 had pre-existing conditions.

The provisional mortality statistics showed that one-fifth of people who died from COVID-19 in Australia had hypertension, 15 per cent had dementia and 13 per cent had diabetes.

Overall, just over two-thirds (68.5 per cent) of the deaths had at least one pre-existing chronic condition listed on the death certificate. Other common conditions were chronic lower respiratory disease and cancer (12 per cent each), ischaemic heart disease (9 per cent) and musculoskeletal conditions (7 per cent).

Blood and lymph cancers were the most commonly certified cancer type among those deaths.

The data, which covered the 89 deaths due to COVID-19 registered before the end of May, showed the majority had acute respiratory symptoms such as viral pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome listed as a consequence of the virus.

More men died from COVID-19 than women and more people aged 74 to 84 died from the virus than any other age group.

The Bureau said it would release provisional reports monthly to track changes in mortality during the pandemic.

Director of health and vital statistics James Eynstone-Hinkins said those reports would allow early identification of emerging health issues during the recovery period.

“The report shows that more than 33,000 doctor-certified deaths occurred from 1 January to the end of March 2020,” said Eynstone-Hinkins. “The highest number of deaths were recorded in the last week of March.

“Deaths in that last week of March from pneumonia, diabetes and dementia were higher than expected numbers based on historic averages.

“It will be important to confirm whether those increases are sustained before drawing any conclusion from this data.”

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