COVID-19 – Florence Nightingale Diagrams of Deaths in England & Wales

April 16, 2021

In week 16 (week ending 23 April) the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 5.3% below the five-year average (556 fewer deaths). This is the 7th consecutive week there have been fewer deaths than expected. Of the registered deaths registered  260 mentioned COVID-19 in week 16.

See ONS update 


Florence Nightingale used a form of radial plots to display data from the Crimean War that demonstrated the death rate amongst soldiers could be reduced by better hygiene practices.

When time-series data is plotted as a normal x-y plot with the time variable along the x-axis it is difficult to identify seasonality or other factors that may influence the data.

Plotting the weekly numbers of deaths using this radial form demonstrates the variability during the first months of the year – For example, deaths from “Aussie flu” in the first weeks of 2018 can be observed. The increase in the number of deaths from the first week in April 2020 can clearly be seen.


Plots up to Dec 25 provided by Irene M. Stratton, Senior Statistician, Gloucestershire Retinal Research Group.
Plots thereafter provided by CEBM
Acknowledgements: Jason Oke and Carl Heneghan commented on earlier versions of this graph