SIX thousand people more than usual have died in the region in six weeks, as the fatal impact of coronavirus was felt.

Figures show that 6,148 people more than normal have died in the West Midlands over a six week period from the end of March to the first week of May.

The figures - known as excess deaths - may show the true death toll of coronavirus on the region, as it compares the number of people who have died this year, whatever the cause, with the average numbers from across the previous five years.

Amongst those to die of Covid-19 during that six-week period in the West Midlands was a former Hereford Journal employee.

A warm and bubbly personality who went on to work as a sub-editor for the Shropshire Star and its weekly sister paper including the Hereford Journal, Catherine Griffiths (nee Waring) was a popular journalist who loved her job.

The 48 year-old, who went to St Mary’s Convent School in Worcester, died on May 3 at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

READ MORE: Tributes paid to journalist who died after testing positive for coronavirus

The data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also shows that the peak of the coronavirus pandemic appears to have been in the middle of April in the West Midlands.

During the three worst weeks that month there were 4,085 extra deaths compared to the average.

The figures compare the weekly total of deaths this year with the average number per week between 2015 and 2019 - and the difference is dramatic.

RELATED NEWS: Coronavirus death toll in Herefordshire hospital rises to 48

The data shows that in the region the worst week this year was between April 17 and April 24, when there were 1,459 extra deaths (2,481 that week in 2020 compared to the five year average of 1,022).

Prior to this, between April 3 and April 10, there were 1,129 extra deaths, and between April 10 and April 17 there were 1,497 extra deaths.

Before the pandemic struck, the region was following similar averages to the last five years, and even in the week between March 20 and March 27 the West Midlands had 30 fewer excess deaths than the average. It was after that point that the numbers rapidly increased as coronavirus spread.

In total, between March 27 up to May 8 (the last available data) - there were 6,148 excess deaths in the West Midlands. Not all deaths will be directly from Covid-19 - but the difference gives an insight into the impact of the pandemic on our region so far.

The excess death figures were not available for Herefordshire.