Up to 4,170 deaths could be wiped from England's 41,686 coronavirus death toll due to a change in tracking method, a spokesman for the UK's Department of Health and Social Care said.
"The Health Secretary has asked Public Health England to conduct an urgent review into the reporting of deaths statistics, aimed at providing greater clarity on the number of fatalities related to COVID-19 as we move past the peak of the virus," a spokesman said.
Public Health England currently counts all deaths of anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 as a COVID-19 death, whether the death is related to the virus or not. Some were being counted as a COVID-19 death even months after an individual tested positive for the virus, regardless of circumstances of that death.
England will now count a COVID-19 death only if a person dies within 28 days of testing positive, as done in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the Sun reports.
"It is a sensible decision. There is no point attributing deaths to COVID 28 days after infection," said Professor Carl Heneghan from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University.
An official announcement on the different approach to counting COVID-19 deaths is expected by the end of the week.