Latest release

Provisional Mortality Statistics

Provisional deaths data for measuring changes in patterns of mortality

Reference period
Jan - Feb 2022
Released
25/05/2022
  • Next Release 23/06/2022
    Provisional Mortality Statistics, Jan - Mar 2022
  • Next Release 29/07/2022
    Provisional Mortality Statistics, Jan - Apr 2022
  • View all releases

Key statistics

  • In 2022, there were 29,685 deaths that occurred by 28 February and were registered by 30 April, which is 5,052 (20.5%) more than the historical average.
  • In February there were 13,692 deaths, 1,999 (17.1%) above the historical average. 
  • COVID-19 was the fourth most common cause of death certified by a doctor in February following cancer, dementia and ischaemic heart diseases. 
  • There was statistically significant excess mortality recorded in the first two months of 2022 (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 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 was released on 18 March and covers deaths that occurred and were registered up until 30 April 2022. COVID-19 articles can be accessed through the articles link on this page. 

Australian deaths by week, 1 March 2021 to 27 February 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 29,685 deaths that occurred by 28 February and were registered by 30 April. This is 5,052 deaths (20.5%) more than the baseline average.
  • In February there were 13,692 deaths, 1,999 (17.1%) above the historical average. While deaths declined each week in February after reaching a high of 3,821 in the week ending 23 January, all weeks in February were above the historical range.
  • 12,196 of the deaths occurring in February 2022 were doctor certified and 1,496 were coroner referred.
  • The age-standardised death rate (SDR) for February 2022 was 38.9 per 100,000 people. This was higher than than the baseline average (36.8). 

Deaths are presented by counts only. Counts of death 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 5 May 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, 1 March 2021 to 27 February 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. 

  • In January and February 2022 there have been 2,521 deaths due to COVID-19 that were certified by a doctor.
  • Doctor certified deaths due to COVID-19 declined each week in February, after peaking at 496 deaths in the week ending 23 January 2022. In the week ending 27 February, there were 150 deaths due to COVID-19.

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 5 May 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.

  • 2,201 deaths were certified by a doctor as being due to ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in January and February 2022, which is 89 deaths (4.2%) higher than the baseline average.
  • In February 2022 there were 1,011 doctor-certified deaths due to IHD, comparable to the baseline average of 1,000.

  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.

  • 1,413 deaths were certified by a doctor as being from cerebrovascular diseases (including strokes) in January and February 2022, comparable to the baseline average of 1,418.
  • In February 2022 there were 684 deaths from cerebrovascular diseases, comparable to the baseline average of 671.
  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 1,894 deaths from respiratory diseases in January and February 2022, comparable to the baseline average of 1,878.
  • In February 2022 there were 901 deaths due to respiratory diseases, 3.2% more than the baseline average of 873.
  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 1,056 deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases in January and February 2022, comparable to the baseline average of 1,047.
  • In February 2022 there were 493 deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, 3.8% above the baseline average of 475.
  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 319 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia recorded in January and February 2022, 8.1% fewer than the baseline average. All of these deaths were due to pneumonia. 
  • In February 2022 there were 154 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia, 4.9% below the baseline average of 162.

Influenza

  • There were no deaths due to influenza in January or February 2022.  

Pneumonia

  • The number of deaths due to pneumonia has generally been below average since late April 2020.
  • Deaths due to pneumonia have been close to baseline averages in February 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 7,961 deaths from cancer in January and February 2022, which is 5.3% higher than the baseline average of 7,559.
  • In February 2022 there were 3,730 deaths from cancer, which is 2.8% higher than the baseline average of 3,627.
  • The SDR for cancer in February 2022 was 11.0 deaths per 100,000 people,  which is lower than the baseline average of 11.6.
  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 859 deaths due to diabetes in January and February 2022, which is 28.0% more the baseline average of 671.
  • In February 2022 there were 370 deaths due to diabetes, which is 16% above the baseline average of 319.
  • The SDR for diabetes in February 2022 was 1.02 deaths per 100,000 people, which is slightly higher than the baseline average of 0.99. 
  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 2,662 deaths from dementia, including Alzheimer disease, in January and February 2022, which is 29.3% more than the baseline average of 2,059.
  • In February 2022 there were 1,252 deaths due to dementia, including Alzheimer disease, which is 28.1% higher than the baseline average.
  • The SDR for dementia in February 2022 was 3.26 deaths per 100,000 people, which is higher than the baseline average of 2.82. 
  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 deathReported at the end of the month the death occurredReported at the end of the month after the death occurredTotal proportion reported at the end of the month after the death occurredTotal proportion reported at the end of two months after the death occurred 
All cause - doctor and coroner certified

43.1%

49.6%

92.8%

97.2%
All cause - doctor certified only45.7%49.2%94.9%98.4%
All cause - coroner certified only24.7%53.1%77.8%88.4%
Ischaemic heart disease (I20 – I25)

45.2%

49.7%

94.9%

98.4%
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60 – I69)

45.1%

50.1%

95.2%

98.6%
Respiratory diseases (J00 – J99)

45.8%

49.6%

95.5%

98.7%
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40 – J47)

45.4%

48.9%

94.3%

98.2%
Influenza and pneumonia (J09 – J18)

45.7%

49.8%

95.5%

98.9%
Cancer (C00 – C97, D45, D46, D47.1, D47.3 – D47.5)

46.9%

48.5%

95.4%

98.6%
Diabetes (E10 – E14)

43.9%

49.1%

93.0%

97.3%
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease (F01, F03, G30)

46.2%

49.2%

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 - Feb 2022

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3303.0.55.004