(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of elderly patients in the U.K. suffering from Covid-19 were denied intensive-care treatment at the height of the spring peak of the pandemic to help stop the National Health Service from being overwhelmed, the Sunday Times reported.

While there were 59,000 extra deaths in England and Wales compared with previous years during the first six months of the pandemic, only 8,000 of these were in hospitals, with the rest of the fatalities in care homes and people’s own houses. The newspaper reported that ambulance and admission teams at hospitals were “told to be more selective about who should be taken into hospital, with specific instructions to exclude many elderly people.”

The U.K. was one of the worst-affected countries by the Covid-19 pandemic, and over 44,000 people have died from the disease caused by the coronavirus. The virus has spiked again in recent weeks, forcing the government to impose tighter restrictions and adopt a localized, tier-based system.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.