Some UK areas saw deaths rise by as much as 70% in December compared to pre-pandemic levels, new analysis by NationalWorld reveals.
Almost 9,000 extra people died during the month compared to the average between 2015-2019, with thousands of those due to non-Covid reasons.
That is according to analysis of official deaths registered data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), National Records Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
It is unclear what is driving the higher mortality - the ONS says it is currently investigating the trend.
Deaths in these two regions were 21.1% and 20.9% higher than normal levels respectively.
Across 2021 as a whole, 62,130 extra deaths were recorded across the UK.
But which parts of the country are seeing the highest number of excess deaths right now?
Below are the 20 UK local government areas with the highest increase in deaths in December compared to the 2015-2019 average.
The Isles of Scilly has been removed from the rankings as its low population skews the figures.