No information is held around the discharge of patients from hospitals to care homes where Covid-19 later broke out, health officials have said.
Around 40% of deaths linked to the virus - 158 of 393 to April 24 - occurred in care homes, according to the latest data from Northern Ireland's statistics agency. However, additional detail on care home cases is difficult to obtain.
Initially the Department of Health was asked about care homes currently listed as having had Covid-19 outbreaks. It was asked how many had received patients discharged from hospital who had been admitted with suspected Covid-19 or similar symptoms, and/or were treated in or near to Covid-19 wards, but were fit to either return to their care home or reside there for recovery. The department was asked whether testing was conducted on each patient who had been admitted with Covid-19 symptoms ahead of discharge to a care home.
The department said it did not have this information, and suggested it is more likely to be a query for the Public Health Agency (PHA); the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and/or the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) support team.
The department was then asked if the minister could give an assurance that he will instruct officials to look into the issues raised. Its reply pointed to a recently released statement around the introduction of testing in care homes and ahead of discharge from hospital.
However, as this could not apply retrospectively, ministerial assurance to have these matters looked into was again requested, but not answered.
Meanwhile, the PHA stated it does not collate this information. The RQIA failed to respond.
HSCB initially sent the minister's latest statement contending this answered the issue on testing ahead of return to care homes. When pointed out that the question asked was retrospective and the minister's statement was not, it responded: "The information is not held centrally in the requested format; however, it may be collated by individual care homes."