Heat wave causes 5 percent more deaths than expected in June

In the second quarter of 2023, over 39,000 people died in the Netherlands, 1,900 or 5 percent more than expected for this period. In three weeks of June, there was excess mortality among people in long-term care and senior citizens. This coincided with a heatwave in the country, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported on Friday.

June 2023 was the warmest June since temperature measurements started in the Netherlands in 1901. Temperatures were over 3 degrees higher than typical. Elderly people and people with weakened systems are vulnerable to heat.

In the second quarter, about 150 more people died per week than expected, but there was only excess mortality during weeks 23, 24, and 25 – the three weeks in June when there was a heatwave in the country. Excess mortality is when the number of deaths is so much higher than expected that it exceeds the accounted-for fluctuations.

The higher-than-expected number of deaths in the second quarter can also partially be attributed to a flu epidemic in the Netherlands in April. Covid-19 is also still circulating in the country, though the number of virus particles in sewage water decreased in the second quarter. According to CBS, 319 people died of Covid-19 in February, the latest known figures.

The excess mortality in June was exclusively among people in long-term care, like nursing homes and care institutions for people with disabilities, and senior citizens. Mortality among people in long-term care was about 10 percent higher than expected in the second quarter at 1,350 deaths. In June, there was excess mortality in weeks 23 to 25 – during the heatwave.

In the second quarter, nearly 900 (4 percent) more people aged 80 and older died than expected for the period. Mortality was higher than expected in almost all weeks, and there was excess mortality in weeks 23 to 25. In the 65 to 89 age group, about 800 (7 percent) more people died in the second quarter, with excess mortality in half of the weeks.

In people younger than 65, mortality was about 200 (4 percent) higher than expected in quarter two. There was just barely excess mortality in this age group in weeks 14, 16, and 24, but the number of deaths was below expectations in six weeks and around the expected level for the rest.

In the first quarter of the year, an average of 225 more people died per week than expected. There was excess mortality in the first two weeks of the quarter.

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