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Adrian Rutherford

Full death toll lays bare the cruel impact of Covid-19 on Northern Ireland

Adrian Rutherford


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Staff outside Belfast City Hospital's tower block, which is Northern Ireland's first Nightingale Hospital, hold a short event at 8.00pm on Thursday April 16 to recognise and acknowledge the public support during a Clap for Blue Light Services. Photo by Kelvin Boyes  / Press Eye.

Staff outside Belfast City Hospital's tower block, which is Northern Ireland's first Nightingale Hospital, hold a short event at 8.00pm on Thursday April 16 to recognise and acknowledge the public support during a Clap for Blue Light Services. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Staff outside Belfast City Hospital's tower block, which is Northern Ireland's first Nightingale Hospital, hold a short event at 8.00pm on Thursday April 16 to recognise and acknowledge the public support during a Clap for Blue Light Services. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Friday's figures give a new insight into the cruel impact of coronavirus on society in Northern Ireland.

In a single week, almost one in six of all deaths registered here were linked to Covid-19.

Data from the region’s official statistics agency released today also confirms the death toll from the virus is significantly higher than previous reported.

A total of 157 fatalities involving Covid-19 were recorded on death certificates up to last Friday, April 10.

These figures, released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), are around a third higher than comparative figures from the Public Health Agency (PHA). At the same point, the PHA was reporting 118 deaths.

So why the difference? Mainly, it is because of differences in how the statistics are gathered.

The PHA figures, released each day at 2pm, cover only those who tested positive for the virus. They do not include most non-hospital deaths. Nisra's cover all deaths where Covid-19 has been included in the death certificate, including those who did not have a Covid-19 diagnosis confirmed by a test.

Analysis of registered deaths shows that Northern Ireland’s general death rate is significantly above average.

A total of 435 deaths in Northern Ireland were registered in the week ending April 10. That was 140 more deaths than the five-year average (295) for the corresponding week - a near 48% rise.

Undoubtedly this has been inflated by coronavirus.

Of the 435 deaths registered in the week to April 10, 76 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate - one in every 5.7.

Analysis by Nisra suggests men here are at slightly higher risk of dying from the virus, accounting for 52.5% of registered deaths.

People aged 75 and above accounted for almost 70% of Covid-19 related deaths.

Of the 157 Covid-19 linked fatalities occurring by April 10, and registered by April 15, more than two-thirds (109) happened in hospital.

Another 41 occurred in care homes and hospices. Those involved 23 separate establishments.

The other seven happened in people's own homes.

Of course these are just numbers. Behind every figure is a personal story of loss and a family grieving.

Belfast Telegraph