Germany has seen significantly more deaths than usual since the start of September in part due to the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching as much as 17% above average in the second week of November, the Statistics Office said on Thursday.
About 7.5% more people died between March 2020 and February 2021, when Germany suffered its first two waves of the pandemic, than in the previous 12 months, the Statistics Office said.
However, from February until a third wave hit in April, the rates of mortality were lower than the average of the previous four years as the coronavirus lockdown meant that the country did not suffer from its usual number of winter deaths from flu.
Since September, the mortality rate has been above average as the coronavirus spread again, although only about half of the excess deaths are currently directly attributable to COVID-19, said Felix zur Nieden, Statistics Office demographic expert.
The other deaths could be due to delayed consequences from an earlier COVID-19 infection or delayed deaths of elderly people who might have previously been expected to die in a flu outbreak, zur Nieden told a news conference.
Germany recorded 527 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number since February.
On Thursday, the German Robert Koch Institute for disease control reported another 70,611 new infections, down 2,598 compared to a week ago, while another 465 people died, bringing the total death toll to 104,512.
More than one in six of the 176,000 people treated in hospital in 2020 for COVID died, at an average age of 80.3 years, the Statistics Office said.
As German hospitals shifted attention to fighting the pandemic in 2020, they operated on 10% fewer patients than in 2019 - the lowest figure since 2005, the data showed.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)