Health Minister Robin Swann has said that the 100 deaths registered by hospitals in Northern Ireland in a single week shows the seriousness of the threat of Covid-19.
In a written statement to the Assembly on Friday afternoon Mr Swann said the deaths are "a chilling illustration of the seriousness of the invisible threat of Covid-19".
Figures from statistics agency Nisra show that hospitals in Northern Ireland recorded their highest number of Covid-19-related deaths in the week to November 20. There were 100 deaths in total in the region, taking the overall toll to 1,333.
The comparative overall number of deaths reported daily by the Department of Health to November 20 was 927.
These figures are based on patients having previously tested positive for the virus, whereas the Nisra figures are based on the information entered on death certificates completed by medical professionals.
They may or may not have previously tested positive for the virus.
Despite the figures Mr Swann told MLAs that he believed the mood to adopt was one of "cautious optimism", citing the progress on a vaccine.
He said Covid-19 cases had continued to decline overall, but expressed concern in regards to the number of cases among the over 60s and cited the pressures hospitals face in terms of capacity and bed occupancy.
The health minister said he expected the number of new cases and pressure on the health service to fall as a result of the two-week circuit breaker lockdown that started on Friday.
However, Mr Swann said that cases may begin to rise again shortly before Christmas.
"Whilst there is much to be optimistic about this must not be the cause of any complacency, or any weakening of our resolve to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum," the UUP MLA said.
"The virus is still spreading in our community, is still making too many of our fellow citizens desperately ill, and tragically is still claiming lives.
"For the sake of ourselves and our health workers we have to redouble our efforts to get through this winter. All our focus now should be on maximising the benefits of the lockdown that has just begun. That is why I sincerely hope we as a society make the most of these two weeks, that we follow the public health guidance and that we stay at home. Our actions today will determine what position our health and social care system will be in as we approach the crucial Christmas period."
It comes after the Department of Health reported a further 12 people have died in Northern Ireland after contracting coronavirus.
Nine deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, with three taking place outside of the period.
The Department of Health death toll has now risen to 974 people.
There have been 391 positive tests for the virus, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 51,509.
Here's how Friday unfolded: