A weekly bulletin recording coronavirus-linked deaths in Northern Ireland has recorded a rise for the first time since mid-June.
Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate for seven deaths registered in the week ending July 24, up five from the week before, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).
This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths registered in the region in 2020 to 853.
Those aged 75 and over have accounted for 80.1% of Covid‑19 related deaths.
Many of those who have been shielding will understandably be nervous about leaving their homes.Dr Michael McBride
The number of deaths recorded by the Department of Health for the same period was 556. Those figures are based on patients who had previously tested positive for the virus.
On Friday the department said 10 more positive cases of coronavirus had been detected in the region, bringing the total number infected to 5,948.
No new deaths were recorded, leaving the total at 556, according to the department.
The latest figures were released as the shielding period for around 80,000 vulnerable people in Northern Ireland came to an end.
Those with serious medical conditions are able to venture outside from Friday for the first time since March as coronavirus restrictions ease.
Ministers are encouraging shoppers to wear face masks to limit virus spread and the measure could be enforced by later next month if not enough people comply voluntarily.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Many of those who have been shielding will understandably be nervous about leaving their homes for sometimes what will be the last time so we can all play our part in assuring them by showing kindness and consideration.”
Those shielding included people with conditions like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis which would leave them particularly at risk should they be infected by coronavirus.
They received special food parcels delivered to their door and other official support.
Stormont’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said: “I realise how difficult a time this has been for you and your families, your actions have undoubtedly saved lives.
“For the rest of us, think of everyone you meet as someone who may have been shielding.
“Please show you care.”
Meanwhile Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 contact-tracing mobile phone app has become the first in the UK to launch.
It is called Stop Covid NI and is aimed at interrupting the spread of coronavirus by finding those most at risk of catching it.
Amnesty International said it set a benchmark for data privacy.
It uses a privacy-preserving decentralised model.
No personally identifiable information/data is collected through the app – it only uses non-identifiable, randomly generated codes and shares only that information.
There are no hidden features to track citizens and it does not track geographical location.
Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “We want to thank the Department of Health for listening to our concerns and broadly adopting our recommendations.
“As such, the Northern Ireland tracing app now sets a benchmark for data privacy, which must be matched by any other contact tracing apps developed elsewhere in the UK.”