Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the UK saw nearly 14,000 deaths in the week of 11 December.

This was 13% above the expected levels for this time of year, down from 15% the week before.

Of these deaths, 3,062 involved Covid-19, also slightly lower than the preceding week.

Excess deaths are the difference between the total number of deaths registered (the height of the shaded area in the chart below) and the average over the previous five years for the same weeks (shown by the dashed line).



This average level rises each week in a normal winter as cold weather, flu and other factors lead to more deaths.

In recent weeks, the total number of deaths in the UK has been largely steady.

The rises seen throughout October and early November stalled, largely due to the falls in coronavirus infections, hospitalisations and deaths seen during November and early December.

As a result, the gap between the total number of deaths seen and the expected levels has narrowed.

But the gap has not disappeared and in the week of 11 December, the total excess deaths seen since the pandemic started in March passed 81,300.

Nearly 524,000 deaths have been registered in total compared to just over 442,000 seen in the same weeks, on average, in the last five years.

This total is larger than that recorded in the daily figures because it includes people whose Covid-19 was not confirmed by a positive test and people who died because of the strain the pandemic has put on the NHS and society.