Many older people are being “airbrushed” out of coronavirus figures in the UK, charities have warned.
The official death toll has been criticised for only covering people who die in hospital – but not those in care homes or in their own houses.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told the BBC the daily figure was based on hospital deaths because “it’s accurate and quick”.
Meanwhile, scientists will begin a review of the UK lockdown later.
The evaluation will be passed to the government – but ministers have said it was unlikely restrictions would change.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, which include every community death linked to Covid-19 in England and Wales, showed a total of 406 such deaths registered up to 3 April had occurred outside of hospitals.
That would have added an extra 11% to the official UK figures, based solely on deaths in hospitals, that were being reported at that time.
Of those extra deaths, 217 took place in care homes, 33 in hospices, 136 in private homes, three in other communal establishments and 17 elsewhere.
Industry leaders from Age UK, Marie Curie, Care England, Independent Age and the Alzheimer’s Society have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock demanding a care package to support social care through the pandemic.
They have also called for a daily update on deaths in the care system.
It comes after the government confirmed there had been coronavirus outbreaks at more than 2,000 care homes in England – although they did not specify the number of deaths that had occurred.
The figures prompted the charity Age UK to claim coronavirus is “running wild” in care homes for elderly people.
“The current figures are airbrushing older people out like they don’t matter,” Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said.
About 410,000 people live in care homes in the UK, living in 11,300 care homes for older people supplied by 5,500 different providers.
Addressing why deaths in care homes are not being included in the government’s data, Ms Coffey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that the certification by doctors is happening regularly, that is being collated by the ONS and it is being published weekly by the ONS.
“I think that is a fair system of getting that picture, that unfortunate picture, across the country of where deaths are happening due to coronavirus.”
England’s care home regulator, the Care Quality Commission, has said it will begin recording deaths in adult social care from this week – asking care providers to give daily updates on the number of confirmed and suspected cases.