Spike in deaths in some European countries in July coincided with heat waves

The number of deaths in European Union and EFTA countries in the second and third weeks of July 2023 was above the 2016-2019 average, EU statistics agency Eurostat said, noting that this coincided with the heat waves of the time.

In July 2023 (weeks 27 to 30), the number of weekly deaths in the EU and EFTA countries was above the 2016-2019 average, around 6200 deaths above the baseline, Eurostat said.

New data from Eurostat indicates that, among the EU and EFTA countries, the highest death rates were observed in Malta (158 per cent period average and 217 per cent period maximum, week 30), Greece (120 per cent period average and 139 per cent period maximum, week 29), Cyprus (117 per cent period average and 134 per cent period maximum, week 30) and Ireland (114 per cent period average and 116 per cent period maximum, week 28).

Most deaths were recorded in the second and third week of July, up by around + 3 800 and +3 200.

“While these data show deaths from all causes, July 2023 was the month when major heatwaves were felt across Europe,” Eurostat said.

“Information from the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that the southern area of the continent experienced temperatures up to 45°C, affecting mostly Greece, eastern Spain, Sardinia, Sicily and southern Italy,” the statistics agency said.

In the first week of July (week 27), the death rate was below the baseline at 99 per cent (-800 deaths). However, in the following two weeks (28 and 29), it went up to 105 per cent and 104 per cent, respectively. In the last week of July (week 30), the death rate decreased to the baseline value (100 per cent).

Until the end of July this year, the death rate hit the highest value in the first week of January, at 112 per cent, and the lowest at the beginning of March, at 97 per cent.

Eurostat noted which regions were the most affected during the heat wave weeks.

During week 28, the most impacted were Lungau in Austria (343 per cent), Glarus in eastern Switzerland (289 per cent), Außerfern also in Austria (235 per cent), Fuerteventura and Lanzarote in Spain (214 per cent and 176 per cent, respectively), and Philippeville in Belgium (176 per cent). 

In week 29, five regions observed death rates above 200 per cent: Uri in Switzerland (267 per cent), Arlon in Belgium (230 per cent), the islands of Ithaca and Kefalonia (229 per cent) and Aetolia-Acarnania in Greece (218 per cent), and the Greater Delfzijl region in the Netherlands (200 per cent).

According to the data, from the 25 regions with the highest death rates, all above 164 per cent (equivalent to around 2 200 deaths), 10 regions were in Greece, eight were in Italy, and three were in Switzerland. 

In the last week of July (week 30), 25 regions recorded death rates of 168 per cent and higher (a total of around 3200 deaths). Catania in Italy recorded the highest death rate at 282 per cent, followed by Dytiki Attiki and Zakynthos in Greece (248 per cent and 246 per cent), La Palma in Spain (242 per cent), and Vibo Valentia in Italy (236 per cent).

In general, most of the top 25 regions are located in the south of Europe: 13 regions in Italy, eight in Greece, two in Spain and Malta, Eurostat said.

(Photo: Auro Queiroz/ freeimages.com)

Please support The Sofia Globe’s independent journalism by becoming a subscriber to our page on Patreon:

Become a Patron!

The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292