Latest release

Provisional Mortality Statistics

Provisional deaths data for measuring changes in patterns of mortality

Reference period
Jan - Mar 2022

Key statistics

  • In 2022, 44,331 deaths occurred by 31 March and were registered by 31 May, which is 6,609 (17.5%) more than the historical average.
  • In March there were 14,343 deaths, 1,254 (9.6%) above the historical average. 
  • The SDR in March was 41.0 per 100,000, compared to an average of 41.2 for the same month historically. 
  • Deaths due to COVID-19 increased to 625 in April after a decrease in March (see article). 

Baseline comparisons

Throughout this report, counts of deaths are compared to an average number of deaths for previous years. In this report, data for 2021 is compared to an average number of deaths recorded over the 5 years from 2015-2019 as was the case in previous publications. Data for 2022 is compared to a baseline comprising the years 2017-2019 and 2021. 2020 is not included in the baseline for 2022 data because it included periods where numbers of deaths were significantly lower than expected.  Counts of deaths for 2015-2021 are included in the baseline datacubes of the data downloads section of this report. 

These average or baseline counts serve as a proxy for the expected number of deaths, so comparisons against baseline counts can provide an indication of whether mortality is higher or lower than expected in a given year. The minimum and maximum counts are also included to provide an indication of the range of previous counts. Minimums and maximums for any given week can be from any of the years included in the baseline.

While this publication can provide an indication of where counts of deaths are above or below expectations, it does not provide official estimates of excess mortality. Using the number of deaths from the previous years as the predictor for the expected number of deaths does not take into account changes in population size and age-structures of that population, as well as expected improvements in mortality rates over time. Age-standardised death rates can be accessed via the data downloads tab in this publication. Updated official excess mortality estimates until the end of February 2022 can be accessed via the articles link in this publication. 

COVID-19 mortality

The ABS publishes two regular reports that provide preliminary information on mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic, Provisional Mortality Statistics and COVID-19 Deaths in Australia articles. These reports provide information on different time periods and serve different purposes.

Provisional Mortality Statistics focus on monitoring patterns of mortality (by all-causes and specified leading causes of death) and highlight any changes potentially associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Data must be sufficiently complete to detect such changes, and as such these reports are only released once the majority of deaths that occurred in a particular period have been registered and reported.   

COVID-19 Mortality in Australia articles focus on all COVID-19 deaths (both doctor and coroner certified) registered and reported up until a specified time. These articles include important information about COVID-19 deaths, including demographic details, comorbidities and consequences of the disease. While it is recognised data will be incomplete, it can still indicate emerging trends or changes among these deaths. The most recent article on COVID-19 mortality covering deaths that occurred and were registered up until 31 May 2022 can be accessed through the articles link on this page. 

Upcoming changes to this publication

From next issue there will be some changes to the body of this publication. This includes: 

  • Cause-specific graphs will no longer be published on a monthly basis. They will be replaced by a table showing the number of doctor certified deaths by selected cause for the most recent month published and the year-to-date, as well as the relevant baseline average comparisons.
  • Cause-specific commentary will be limited to a summary of key points for selected causes only. 

All data previously presented in graphs will continue to be available in the datacubes which can be accessed in the data downloads section of this publication. 

Australian deaths by week, 29 March 2021 to 27 March 2022

All-cause deaths

Tracking the number of deaths against historical averages for similar time periods provides an initial indication of when a change in the pattern of mortality may occur. This is of particular relevance because of the many potential public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of COVID-19 infections by week in Australia is highlighted alongside total deaths. This is to enable insights into patterns of mortality from all causes of death during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during peak infectious periods. 

For all deaths:

  • In 2022, there were 44,331 deaths that occurred by 31 March and were registered by 31 May. This is 6,609 deaths (17.5%) more than the baseline average.
  • In March there were 14,343 deaths, 1,254 (9.6%) above the historical average. 
  • 12,633 of the deaths occurring in March 2022 were doctor certified and 1,710 were coroner referred.
  • The age-standardised death rate (SDR) for March 2022 was 41.0 per 100,000 people. This is comparable to the baseline average (41.2). 

Deaths are presented by counts only. Counts of deaths do not account for changes in population. See data downloads for weekly and monthly age-standardised death rate calculations. 

  1. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  2. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  3. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks. Refer to explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  4. Data for the number of COVID-19 infections has been sourced from the COVID-19 daily infections graph published on the Australian Government Department of Health website. Data extracted 3 June 2022.
  5. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Cause-specific doctor certified mortality by week, 29 March 2021 to 27 March 2022

Cause-specific mortality

The following analysis is based only on doctor certified deaths (i.e. coroner referred deaths are not included). Any changes in patterns of coroner referral could affect counts of doctor certified deaths. Some conditions have higher coroner referral rates (ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases and to a lesser extent, respiratory diseases and diabetes) so counts for those conditions would be more likely to be affected by such changes.

COVID-19

The graph below shows COVID-19 doctor certified deaths alongside COVID-19 infections. Similar to the all-cause mortality graph, this graph is designed to show the pattern of COVID-19 mortality during the pandemic. COVID-19 mortality and infections are presented on two separate axes with different scales. The mortality axis is on the left side and the infections axis is on the right side. This should be considered when looking at the magnitude of mortality during this time period. For example, during the Delta wave the doctor-certified COVID-19 deaths range from 5 - 98 per week. To reference the infections during this period, the right axis should be referred to which shows that infections were in the 1000's to 10000's each week. The graph also demonstrates how deaths due to COVID-19 peak slightly after peaks in infections. 

  • Between January and March 2022 there have been 2,920 deaths due to COVID-19 that were certified by a doctor.
  • Doctor certified deaths due to COVID-19 plateaued in March following the decline during February.

a. COVID-19 includes all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code of U07.1 or U07.2.
b. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
c. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
d. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
e. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
f. Refer to the explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
g. Data for the number of COVID-19 infections has been sourced from the COVID-19 daily infections graph published on the Australian Government Department of Health website. Data extracted 3 June 2022.

Ischaemic heart disease

Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. The category includes acute conditions such as myocardial infarction and chronic conditions such as coronary atherosclerosis.

  • 3,349 deaths were certified by a doctor as being due to ischaemic heart disease (IHD) between January and March 2022, which is 100 deaths (3.1%) higher than the baseline average.
  • In March 2022 there were 1,130 doctor certified deaths due to IHD, comparable to the baseline average of 1,137.

  1. Ischaemic heart disease includes all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code between I20-I25.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to the explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Cerebrovascular diseases

Cerebrovascular diseases refer to a number of conditions such as stroke, cerebral aneurysms and stenosis that affect blood flow and circulation to the brain.

  • 2,138 deaths were certified by a doctor as being from cerebrovascular diseases (including strokes) between January and March 2022, comparable to the baseline average of 2,160.
  • In March 2022 there were 718 deaths from cerebrovascular diseases, 3.2% lower than the baseline average of 742.
  1. Cerebrovascular diseases include all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code between I60-I69.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Respiratory diseases

Respiratory diseases include causes of death such as pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lower respiratory diseases (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis). Deaths due to COVID-19 are not included in this category. COVID-19 deaths are captured using WHO issued emergency codes U07.1 and U07.2 and are currently grouped separately from other diseases (though they are included in the total number of deaths). 

  • There were 2,898 deaths from respiratory diseases between January and March 2022, comparable to the baseline average of 2,865.
  • In March 2022 there were 987 deaths due to respiratory diseases, equal to the baseline average.
  1. Respiratory diseases include all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code between J00-J99.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to the explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Chronic lower respiratory diseases

Chronic lower respiratory diseases include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47) are a sub-group of respiratory diseases (J00-J99).

  • There were 1,627 deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases between January and March 2022, comparable to the baseline average of 1,593.
  • In March 2022 there were 558 deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, comparable to the baseline average of 546.
  1. Chronic lower respiratory diseases include all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code between J40-J47.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Influenza and pneumonia

Influenza and pneumonia are acute respiratory diseases often grouped together when compiling leading causes of death. They are two distinct diseases: influenza is a viral infection, while pneumonia can be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungi. Influenza is a common cause of pneumonia.

Deaths due to influenza are highly seasonal and most commonly occur in Australia between the months of May and September. The timing, length and severity of the influenza season varies considerably from year to year. For this reason, influenza deaths have been excluded from the graph below so pneumonia deaths can be tracked separately.

Influenza and pneumonia (J09-J18) are a subset of respiratory diseases (J00-J99).

  • There were 470 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia recorded between January and March 2022, 10.3% fewer than the baseline average. All of these deaths were due to pneumonia. 
  • In March 2022 there were 148 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia, 16.4% below the baseline average of 177.

Influenza

  • There were no deaths due to influenza between January and March 2022.  

Pneumonia

  • The number of deaths due to pneumonia has generally been below average since late April 2020.
  • Deaths due to pneumonia were 10.3% below the baseline average in March 2022. 
  1. Pneumonia includes all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code between J12-J18.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to the explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Cancer

Cancer includes malignant neoplasms encompassing carcinomas, sarcomas and lymph and blood cancers.

  • There were 12,240 deaths from cancer between January and March 2022, which is 5.5% higher than the baseline average of 11,602.
  • In March 2022 there were 4,227 deaths from cancer, which is 4.6% higher than the baseline average of 4,043.
  • The SDR for cancer in March 2022 was 12.3 deaths per 100,000 people, which is lower than the baseline average of 13.0.
  1. Cancer includes all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code between C00-C97, D45, D46, D47.1 or D47.3-D47.5.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to the explanatory notes on the Methodology page in this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Diabetes

Diabetes includes both Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. The majority of diabetes deaths are from Type 2 diabetes.

  • There were 1,260 deaths due to diabetes between January and March 2022, which is 20.7% more the baseline average of 1,044.
  • In March 2022 there were 390 deaths due to diabetes, which is 4.6% above the baseline average of 373.
  • The SDR for diabetes in February 2022 was 1.09 deaths per 100,000 people, which is comparable to the baseline average of 1.15. 
  1. Diabetes includes all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code between E10-E14.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to the explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Dementia, including Alzheimer disease

Dementia, including Alzheimer disease, is the second leading cause of death in Australia and counts of deaths from dementia have increased steadily over the past 20 years. This increase should be taken into consideration when comparing counts from 2021 and 2022 against baseline averages.

  • There were 3,859 deaths from dementia, including Alzheimer disease, between January and March 2022, which is 19.7% more than the baseline average of 3,223.
  • In March 2022 there were 1,173 deaths due to dementia, including Alzheimer disease, which is comparable to the baseline average of 1,164.
  • The SDR for dementia in March 2022 was 3.04 deaths per 100,000 people, which is lower than the baseline average of 3.37. 
  1. Dementia, including Alzheimer Disease includes all deaths where the underlying cause of death is assigned an ICD-10 code of F01, F03 or G30.
  2. This graph only includes doctor certified deaths.
  3. This graph is compiled by the date the death occurred.
  4. This data is considered to be provisional and subject to change as additional data is received.
  5. In line with the ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) week date system, weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday. Week 1 of any given year is the week which starts on the Monday closest to 1 January, and for which the majority of its days fall in January (i.e. four days or more). Week 1 therefore always contains the 4th of January and always contains the first Thursday of the year. Using the ISO structure, some years (e.g. 2015 and 2020) contain 53 weeks.
  6. Refer to the explanatory notes on the Methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  7. The baseline for 2022 includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021. The baseline for 2021 includes deaths from 2015-19.

Timeliness and completeness of data

Each death registration in the national mortality dataset has 3 dates:

  • The date on which the death occurred.
  • The date on which the death was registered with the jurisdictional Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (RBDM).
  • The date on which the death was lodged with the ABS.
     

When looking to measure change over time, the completeness of data for the most recent period is important. When data is received each month by the ABS, the lag between the date of death and the date of registration means that approximately 40-50% of reported registrations are of deaths that occurred in the month being reported. The remainder are deaths that occurred in earlier months.

For deaths which are doctor certified, approximately 95% of registrations are received after a second month of reporting, while for coroner certified deaths, the proportion of registrations reported after a second month is lower (approximately 78%). This is because it takes longer for coroners to certify deaths due to the complexity of investigations.

As coroner referred deaths make up a smaller proportion of all deaths (approximately 11-14%) their inclusion in all-cause data only reduces the overall completeness by around 2%. This should be considered when making comparisons with historical counts, noting also that the level of completeness will be higher for the start of any given month than the end of that month. 

This pattern of registration and reporting is highlighted in the table below, which also shows the slight variation in reporting timelines by cause of death. 

Cause of death

Total proportion reported at the end of the month the death occurred

Total proportion reported at the end of the month after the death occurred

Total proportion reported at the end of two months after the death occurred

All cause - doctor and coroner certified43.1%92.8%97.2%
All cause - doctor certified only45.7%94.9%98.4%
All cause - coroner certified only24.7%77.8%88.4%
Ischaemic heart disease (I20 – I25)45.2%94.9%98.4%
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60 – I69)45.1%95.2%98.6%
Respiratory diseases (J00 – J99)45.8%95.5%98.7%
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40 – J47)45.4%94.3%98.2%
Influenza and pneumonia (J09 – J18)45.7%95.5%98.9%
Cancer (C00 – C97, D45, D46, D47.1, D47.3 – D47.5)46.9%95.4%98.6%
Diabetes (E10 – E14)43.9%93.0%97.3%
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease (F01, F03, G30)46.2%95.4%98.8%

a. Percentages are based on the average of 4 years (2017-2019 and 2021) of receipt of death registrations.
b. Cause-specific rows in this table only include doctor certified deaths.
c. Data is subject to change.
 

The graphs below show how numbers of deaths for each period have increased over time as additional registrations that occurred in previous months are reported to the ABS. Due to these increases, data for the most recently reported periods should be treated with caution.

Data downloads

Provisional Mortality Statistics, Jan - Mar 2022

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3303.0.55.004