Almost 400 deaths involving Covid-19 in Northern Ireland

There have been almost 400 deaths involving Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, according to the latest research.

Figures compiled by the Northern Ireland Statistical and Research Agency (NISRA) indicate there have been 393 deaths.

Some 109 of these deaths occurred between April 18-24 at care homes, hospitals and at home.

Most of the number for that week (63) occurred at care homes, while 40 were in hospitals and six at home.

Of the NISRA total, some 53.2% of deaths were at hospital, 40% in care homes, 5.9% at home and 0.8% at hospices.

The 161 deaths in care homes and hospices involved 57 separate establishments.

The NISRA total is higher than over the same period for deaths reported daily by the Department of Health (299).

The department’s figures are based on patients having previously tested positive for the virus, whereas NISRA figures are based on the information entered on death certificates, filled out by medical professionals. They may or may not have previously tested positive for the virus.

On Thursday the department received criticism over “gaps and losses” in its data around the spread of Covid-19.

The UK Statistics Authority said there was “serious public concern” about changes made in how the data is reported during the pandemic.

Director general for regulation Ed Humpherson said: “Daily surveillance statistics should be released in a transparent, easily accessible and orderly way.

Coronavirus graphic
Coronavirus graphic

“A news release on the departmental website and Twitter are not sufficient.

“There are gaps in the data and daily time series have been lost since the statistics began to be issued through Department of Health news releases.

“These gaps and losses need to be addressed.”

A daily information “dashboard” is due to go live on Friday, an official at Stormont’s Department of Health responded.

Coronavirus silence
Coronavirus silence

Meanwhile, separate analyses of the NISRA figures shows that the provisional number of total deaths registered in Northern Ireland in the week ending April 24 (week 16) was 470, 46 more than in week 15 and 186 more than the five-year average of 284.

Over the last four weeks in total, 596 excess deaths (deaths above the average for the corresponding period in previous years) have been registered in Northern Ireland.

Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate for 128 (27.2%) of the 470 deaths registered in week 16, bringing the total number of Covid-19 related deaths registered in the calendar year 2020 to 370.

Males accounted for around half of all registered deaths (49.1%) and the 370 Covid‑19 related deaths (50.3%), while those aged 75 and over accounted for two-thirds of all deaths and 75.1% of Covid‑19 related deaths registered this calendar year up to April 24.