Gruesome statistic emerges almost 2 years after first lockdown

·3-min read

A morbid new statistic has emerged in the UK, finding a sharp rise in the number of decomposing bodies being left at home for at least a week before being discovered during the nation's lockdowns.

New research from the Imperial College Healthcare Trust has found a 70.5 per cent increase in decomposed bodies having coronial autopsies since the first lockdown in March 2020.

"Our results support the idea that perimortem social isolation will lead to an increased frequency of advanced decomposition changes seen at autopsy," the authors of the research said.

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology and noted there was also a 38 per cent increase in people dying at home since the first lockdown in March 2020.

There was a 70 per cent increase in bodies showing signs of decomposition amid the pandemic. Source: Getty Images
There was a 70 per cent increase in bodies showing signs of decomposition amid the pandemic. Source: Getty Images/File

Of the people who were among the "markedly decomposed" cases evaluated in the study, 98 per cent of them had died at home. No hospital deaths showed signs of decomposition.

Dr Theodore Estrin-Serlui, a co-author of the study, told The Telegraph severe decomposition is usually a sign of the body not being found for a long period of time.

"In excess of at least a week," he said.

The lockdowns have proven to be successful at containing the spread of Covid-19, the study notes, however, they have also caused "abrupt societal changes", including "increased social isolation and loneliness" in the UK.

The study aimed to find out whether more people were reaching a more advanced stage of decomposition after death since the start of the pandemic and lockdowns.

The study also found there was a statistically significant increase in the number of days between the body being found and the autopsy taking place in 2020 and 2021, noting it was one to two days longer on average.

"This was likely a result of the higher mortuary total caseload in 2020–2021 causing delays," the study said. 

"It would nevertheless not affect frequency of decomposition change as any delay happened after the body had been delivered to the mortuary and refrigerated. 

"There was no recorded delay in transferring the body from the scene of discovery to the mortuary or a change in this process between cohorts."

Director of policy and research at Marie Curie UK Dr Sam Royston told The Telegraph the data shows the system is failing people.

“The pandemic has been a stress test for how well our health and care system works for people dying at home," Dr Royston said, 

People wear masks as they walk near Britain's Houses of Parliament as the country is in lockdown to help curb the spread of coronavirus, in London, Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
There were several national lockdowns in the UK, the first being in March 2020. Source: AP Photo

"And this data clearly shows a system failing people when they are most in need.”

The vast majority of the excess deaths at home were not due to Covid-19 and the authors noted that if those people had been in hospital, there is chance they would not have died.

"If these people had been in hospital we can consider that maybe they would not have died at all, if their condition/illness was readily treatable, for example," the study said. 

"Others have already suggested that some of the excess deaths at home may be due to healthcare avoidance behaviours as a result of the pandemic."

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