January death tolls already more than 30 per cent of 2020 total

Hospital staff on one of five Covid-19 wards at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside where patients are ta

Hospital staff on one of five Covid-19 wards at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside where patients are taken to recover from the virus. - Credit: PA

The second wave of COVID-19 is proving so deadly in parts of Hertfordshire that fatalities in the first three weeks of January were equal to almost half of the entire 2020 death toll. 

In Welwyn Hatfield, the number of residents who died with the virus in the three weeks up to January 22 was equal to 47 per cent of the borough’s 2020 total.  

In those three weeks, 63 residents had COVID-19 listed on their death certificates as a cause of death. In all of 2020, the figure was 133.  

High numbers of deaths are partly due to the virus once again spreading in the county’s care homes.  

On January 20, it was reported that more than half of all care homes in Herts were dealing with “outbreaks”.  

In Welwyn Hatfield, 18 deaths – almost 30 per cent of all coronavirus fatalities in the first three weeks of January – were in care homes.  

In Stevenage, 31 coronavirus deaths were recorded – equivalent to 37.3 per cent of its 2020 death toll. A third of them were in care homes.  

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St Albans lost 66 residents to the virus – equal to 31.4 per cent of its 2020 total. Eleven of its 2021 deaths were in care homes.  

Among the fatalities was 97-year-old grandmother Aaltje Berry.  

Born in the Netherlands, Mrs Berry moved to Stevenage in the 1940s after escaping the Nazis and working for the Red Cross during World War Two.  

She and her husband later settled in Welwyn Garden City on a plot they reportedly bought from actor Peter Sellers. 

Her family said: "She was incredibly warm-hearted and nothing ever got her down."


Aaltje Berry posing for a Co-op ad for groceries - Credit: Supplied by Howard Berry

The new data, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), records England’s coronavirus deaths more accurately than the total given out daily by the government, as it includes deaths outside medical settings, which take longer to register and be counted.  

On January 22, the national death count given out by the government was 99,717. According to the ONS figures, the real number of COVID-19 deaths up to that date was 117,378.  

On January 22, Hertfordshire’s director of public health Jim McManus said in a briefing that demand on hospital admissions had continued to “ramp up” throughout the month, warning the public: “We are not out of the woods yet.”