Rapid reporting of mortality data during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven increased demands for timely, high quality statistics that can help governments to respond to the social, health and economic impacts of the disease. Data has also been critically important for informing the public during this time of high uncertainty. During the early stages of the pandemic, Australia relied on health surveillance systems to provide critical information on numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with these systems continuing to play an important role in managing subsequent outbreaks. As the pandemic progressed, the need to understand the broader impacts on mortality, both direct and indirect, also became apparent. These impacts could not be measured through disease surveillance systems but could be captured through civil registration based mortality data. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recognised both the challenge and opportunity in seeking to deliver rapid registration based mortality data, and after consultation with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, agreed to find a way to deliver the required data.