DEATHS in Southend were three-quarters higher in April than usual levels as the coronavirus crisis took hold, with official figures showing Basildon saw deaths more than double in comparison to last year.

The British Medical Association (BMA) says the “true devastation wrought by Covid-19” is starting to become clear, after official statistics showed deaths across England and Wales doubled last month.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show 320 deaths were recorded in Southend during April - 138 more than the 182 recorded in April 2019.

This was 76 per cent more in comparison to the same month last year, which was far lower than the average rise across the East of England’s 45 local authorities where death counts increased by 90 per cent.

Deaths in Basildon more than doubled above the usual level in comparison to April last year, with ONS figures showing 313 deaths were recorded in Basildon during April. That was 186 more than the 127 recorded in April 2019.

This was 146 per cent more deaths – one of the biggest increases among Essex’s 12 local authorities.

These figures included all deaths, not just those directly attributed to Covid-19.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA council, said the figures showed the “widespread and tragic” impact the crisis is having on the population, which is extending far beyond the direct effects of the virus.

She said: “The response of the health service to adapt to the Covid crisis has been nothing short of remarkable, but because the NHS was severely overstretched prior to the pandemic, this could only be achieved by diverting resources away from other areas of care.

“As such, many non-Covid patients have been unable to access treatments or have been deterred from attending hospital or contacting their GP practice. Consequently, many ill patients are not getting the care they so desperately need.”