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Coronavirus: Department of Health changes reporting method removing thousands of suspected cases

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Daily figures on coronavirus deaths and testing are released by the DoH (Ben Birchall/PA)

Daily figures on coronavirus deaths and testing are released by the DoH (Ben Birchall/PA)

Daily figures on coronavirus deaths and testing are released by the DoH (Ben Birchall/PA)

The Department of Health has changed its statistical reporting method for coronavirus-related hospital admissions which has removed thousands of patients that were suspected to have had the disease.

A spokesman said it was to clear up any confusion and to only include those patients who tested positive for the disease and not those suspected to have had it.

Last week it was reported there were over 7,535 people admitted to hospitals in Northern Ireland. They were either confirmed or suspected of having Covid-19. The majority had been discharged with 465 still in hospital.

In the Wednesday, June 17 update the Department of Health reports a total of 1,467 total admissions since the outbreak. Over 1,400 have been discharged and 36 still in hospital.

The Department of Health said it had changed the reporting method after advice from clinicians to remove suspected cases of Covid-19.

The department's reporting of coronavirus statistics has been beset with problems. Originally the Public Health Agency reported daily on updates of the break out before the Department of Health took over.

Two days after it did in April the online digital dashboard was out of action for two weeks after figures were found to be incorrect. Partial information was provided until its restoration.

That earned the department a rebuke from the UK Statistics Authority which called for more comprehensive information to be published.

It noted the "serious public concern" over the reporting of Covid-19 statistics in Northern Ireland.

Statistics, it said, should be released in a "transparent, easily accessible and orderly way".

"A news release on the departmental website and Twitter are not sufficient," the department was told.

Belfast Telegraph