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True scale of coronavirus tragedy emerges as new figures put NI deaths at 30% higher than first reported


A ward in Belfast’s Nightingale Hospital

A ward in Belfast’s Nightingale Hospital

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A ward in Belfast’s Nightingale Hospital

The actual number of deaths linked to coronavirus in Northern Ireland remains 30% higher than initially reported, new data suggests.

Eighteen more fatalities were announced by the Department of Health yesterday.

Four occurred within the previous 24 hours. The other 14 were deaths confirmation of other cases.

In total 365 people have now died here after testing positive for the virus.

However, the actual number will be higher, because most deaths outside of hospital are not included.

Data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) provides a more complete analysis.

Yesterday it reported that as of eight days ago, the total death toll was approaching 400.

Over 40% of the deaths took place in care homes.

Nisra's latest bulletin shows:

  • 393 deaths mentioning Covid-19 on a death certificate occurred in Northern Ireland up to April 24;
  • The comparative number of deaths reported by the Department of Health by April 24 was 299 - a difference of 94 (31.4%);
  • Of the 393 total deaths, 209 (53.2%) occurred in hospital, 158 (40.2%) occurred in care homes, three (0.8%) occurred in hospices and 23 (5.9%) occurred at residential addresses or another location;
  • The proportion of Covid-19 deaths occurring in care homes has increased from 33.5% to 40.2% in one week;
  • The 161 deaths in care homes and hospices involved 57 separate facilities.

Two sets of figures on virus-linked deaths are published in Northern Ireland.

The daily Northern Ireland Government updates provided by the Department of Health count the number of deaths reported by health trusts, where the deceased had a positive test for Covid-19 and died within 28 days.

On Thursday, the department was criticised by the UK Statistics Authority over "gaps and losses" in its data.

Nisra's weekly statistics, based on death registration information, count all deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate by a doctor.

Yesterday's Nisra bulletin provides a more in-depth insight into the virus' death toll.

The greatest number of Covid-19 fatalities occurring in a single day has been 25. This happened twice - on Thursday, April 9 and Wednesday, April 22.

The Nisra statistics state that, over the last four weeks, 596 'excess deaths' have been registered in Northern Ireland. These are deaths above the average for the corresponding period in previous years.

In the week ending April 24, 470 deaths were registered here, 186 more (65.5%) than the five-year average of 284.

Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate for 128 (27.2%) of the 470 deaths registered in that week - over one in four.

Males accounted for around half of all virus-related deaths (50.3%), while those aged 75 and over accounted for 75.1% of the deaths.

Meanwhile, in the Republic, it was announced yesterday that 34 more people who were diagnosed with Covid-19 have died. A total of 1,265 Covid-19 related deaths have occurred in the country.

The UK yesterday announced 739 more coronavirus deaths, taking the official fatality toll to 27,510.

Belfast Telegraph