London and the South East of England recorded an increase in registered Covid-19 deaths in the week to January 1, new figures reveal.
In the South East, 523 deaths were registered, up from 415 the previous week and the highest since the week to May 15, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have said.
London had 492 deaths, up from 299 and the highest since the week to May 1.
This represents two registered deaths in five (43%) involving Covid-19 in the capital, despite a lag in reporting as the period covered includes two bank holidays.
The extent of this rise in deaths is highlighted at one London funeral directors who say they are more than twice as busy as they would normally be in January.
Newham undertaker John Cribb said he was seeing people who were younger than during the first wave.
"This seems to be taking people out much quicker," he told ITV News London.
"We're twice as busy as we'd normally be"
NHS medical director in London Dr Vin Diwakar painted a grim picture of the coronavirus situation in the capital during the Downing Street press conference, as he warned more patients may have to be sent elsewhere.
At the start of November, he said, London had 1,000 Covid-19 patients. This increased four-fold to 4,000 on Christmas Day and has doubled to just under 8,000 today, with more than 1,000 of those on critical care.
Across the UK, almost half of the hospital deaths in England and Wales registered during the last week of 2020 involved coronavirus.
There were 3,144 deaths registered in the week ending January 1 which mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Of the 4,956 deaths registered which occurred in hospitals, 47.7% involved coronavirus, up from 40.2% the previous week.
Prof Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, The Open University, said: “Deaths from all causes registered in the week ending January 1 were lower than in the previous week for Wales and for all regions of England except London, but again this isn’t a true decrease.
"It is a consequence of the registration issues. What’s notable is that, despite the complication from registration delays, the number is still up in London, which illustrates how serious the pandemic is there at present. In London that week, more than two registered deaths in five (43%) involved Covid-19."
A total of 93,030 have been registered where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the latest reports from the UK’s statistics agencies.
This includes 84,449 in England and Wales up to January 1, which were confirmed by the ONS on Tuesday.
Since these statistics were compiled, a further 4,869 deaths have occurred in England, plus 117 in Scotland, 245 in Wales and 118 in Northern Ireland, according to additional data published on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.
The number of excess deaths that have occurred in the UK since the start of the coronavirus pandemic has now passed 88,000.
There were 79,739 excess deaths in England and Wales registered between March 7 2020 and January 1 2021, according to figures published by the ONS on Tuesday.
The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England stood at a record 32,202 as of 8am on Tuesday January 12, according to the latest figures from NHS England.
The figure is up 22% on a week ago, and up 82% since Christmas Day.
In London, the number stands at 7,606 patients, up 12% in a week, while South-east England has 5,546 patients.