Prof James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute and University of Oxford, said: “This morning’s data from the ONS reminds us that the death toll is significantly higher than just the deaths announced in hospital.

“Passing the peak of announced deaths is a moment to remember the human suffering that has happened and what is still to come.

“At best we are at the end of the beginning.

“We may well have to face other waves of infection before either a reliable cure or a vaccine are discovered.

“What matters most now and in the immediate future is learning from this wave so that we do better in any subsequent wave.”

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the underlying cause of death in the most deaths for the month – 6,401 – the equivalent of 130 deaths per 100,000 people – and which accounted for 14 per cent of all deaths in March.

This was followed by ischaemic heart diseases, with 4,042 deaths – 83 per 100,000 people -which accounted for nine per cent of the total.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference on Thursday, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said it was now “very clear” that age, comorbidities and gender were the principal risk factors for death from Covid-19.

“If you look at the data on this over 90 per cent of people who have sadly died of this had at least one other disease. Many of them have more than one. And actually male sex is a, is a very clear risk factor.”

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