6.3 thousand deaths due to confirmed COVID-19 in March and April 2020

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© Hollandse Hoogte / Robin Utrecht
In March and April of this year, altogether 6,331 deaths in the Netherlands were confirmed to have been due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Moreover, in the case of 1,956 other deaths, the attending medical practitioner indicated suspected COVID-19 as the cause of death. Therefore, in the period March through April a total of 8,287 deaths were recorded with COVID-19 as the confirmed or suspected cause of death. This is evident from provisional figures on causes of death, reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Mortality caused by COVID-19, 2020*
Confirmed COVID-19 deaths16834635
Suspected COVID-19 deaths4881465
* provisional figures

CBS has been publishing mortality statistics on a weekly basis since 3 April. The numbers are based on death certificates received daily by CBS and obtained from the municipal population registers. These do not list the specific cause of death. The data on causes of death are compiled on the basis of cause of death certificates, which are completed by attending medical practitioners. CBS receives these certificates via the municipality where the death occurred. At present, 94.8 percent of all cause of death certificates for the month of April have been received and processed by CBS; for March this is currently 97.6 percent. For more information, please read: How CBS compiles mortality figures in times of corona.

Excess mortality in March and April mainly due to COVID-19

In weeks 10 to 17 inclusive (2 March-26 April 2020), there were over 8,300 more deaths than might be expected for that period; this is referred to as excess mortality. This estimate is based on data from death certificates which are sent to CBS every day. According to the statistical data, 5,995 people died from confirmed COVID-19 during that period while another 1,891 deaths were due to suspected COVID-19 as indicated by the attending medical practitioner. Therefore, altogether 7,886 persons died in weeks 10 to 17 inclusive whose death was due to confirmed or suspected  COVID-19. This number may be revised upwards after all the additional cause of death certificates for this period will have been processed.

Mortality caused by COVID-19 and excess mortality, weeks 10 to 17 inclusive, 2020*
 Confirmed COVID-19 deathsSuspected COVID-19 deathsExcess mortality
COVID-19 mortality59951891
Excess mortality8312
* provisional figures

Data sources for CBS and RIVM

In weeks 10 to 17 inclusive (2 March-26 April 2020), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) reported 4,890 COVID-19 deaths based on data received from municipal health services (GGD). In the same period, CBS registered 5,995 confirmed COVID-19 deaths based on the cause of death forms. There are several explanations for the discrepancies between the CBS and RIVM figures. Firstly, there may have been death forms stating COVID-19 as the cause of death based on the clinical picture, but not confirmed by laboratory testing. These deaths are not included in the RIVM figures. Secondly, deaths which were clinically confirmed and laboratory-tested cases of COVID-19 may not have been reported as such to the GGD, which also means they are not included in the RIVM figures.

Higher COVID-19 mortality among men

Over half of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 deaths were male: 4,451 men against 3,836 women died of COVID-19 in March and April. In relative terms as well, per thousand inhabitants, there were more male than female COVID-19 deaths across the different age groups. Male COVID-19 mortality was even twice as high as female COVID-19 mortality in the age group 75 to 79 years (2.28 against 1.03 per thousand inhabitants).
The average age of men who died of confirmed COVID-19 was 79.6 years; the average age of the women was 83.4 years. The average age was slightly higher among deaths due to suspected COVID-19: 81.9 years among the men and 84.6 years among the women.

Mortality due to confirmed COVID-19 , March and April 2020*
LeeftijdMen (per 1,000 inhabitants)Women (per 1,000 inhabitants)
Under 50 yrs0.010.00
95 yrs or older15.3512.72
* provisional figures

Mortality due to suspected COVID-19, March and April 2020*
LeeftijdMen (per 1,000 inhabitants)Women (per 1,000 inhabitants)
Under 50 yrs0.000.00
95 yrs or older6.904.79
* provisional figures

Other causes of death

The provisional figures show that in March and April 2020, fewer deaths were related to diseases of the circulatory system and cancer than in the same months in 2019. Mortality due to mental and behavioural disorders and diseases of the nervous system, such as dementia, was almost equal to the level recorded one year previously. In March, the number of suicides was similar to March 2019; in April, it was lower than twelve months previously. The number of traffic deaths in March and April was roughly the same as in the same months last year. In view of the still incomplete data and the fact that these figures cover only two months, no definitive conclusions should be drawn from this information.