A&E visits in England have fallen to their lowest figure on record as people stay away during the coronavirus outbreak.
Figures published by NHS England show 917,000 attendances were recorded in April 2020, down 57% from 2.1 million in the same month last year.
The latest number is the lowest for any calendar month since current records began in August 2010.
NHS England said the fall was “likely to be a result of the COVID-19 response”.
This suggests people have been staying away from A&E departments because of the coronavirus outbreak.
There were 327,000 emergency admissions in April, 39% lower than the same month last year.
The number of A&E admissions is also more than half a million less than the 1,531,000 people who visited in March.
A&E attendances have been dropping each month since January as the coronavirus has spread across the UK.
Monthly A&E attendances in 2020:
January – 2,114,623
February – 1,969,691
March – 1,531,100
April – 917,000
The figures have been revealed as public health leaders confirmed a new coronavirus antibody test was found to be 100% accurate.
Junior health minister Edward Argar said: “This has the potential to be a game changer.
“We are now moving as fast as we can to discuss with Roche purchasing of those but I can’t give you an exact date when we’ll be able to start rolling them out.”
The body that represents NHS trusts says a lack of testing could have meant some patients with COVID-19 were discharged from hospitals into care homes.
Analysis: Fall in numbers could mean ‘life-threatening conditions like heart attacks are untreated’
By Laura Bundock, news correspondent
Another huge drop in accident and emergency attendance will be a big worry.
These figures are for the month of April, when the country was in full lockdown. It’s also when the peak of the virus was happening.
We’ve long been told the virus was a threat to life, not just for those infected, but for people who haven’t sought the medical care they need.
With fewer people going to A&E, it could mean serious, life-threatening conditions like strokes or heart attacks are untreated.
Figures from the ONS are already showing a steep rise in “excess mortality” – more deaths occurring than would normally be expected.
Throughout the pandemic A&E departments have remained open, but this data shows just how many people weren’t visiting them.