The number of weekly deaths in Northern Ireland’s care homes has fallen for the second week in a row.
The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) has published its latest statistical bulletin.
In the week to 15 May, there were 32 deaths in care homes. In the previous week, to 8 May, that figure was 38, and fell from 72 deaths the previous week.
However, almost half of the 664 coronavirus-related deaths recorded by Nisra have happened in NI’s care homes.
Nisra said its latest report also showed the third consecutive weekly fall in the overall number of registered Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland.
In separate daily figures, three more coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, bringing its total to 504.
One of the deaths happened since Thursday, two other deaths happened earlier but have only now been added to the department’s total.
The daily numbers mostly reflect hospital deaths, but weekly figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency cover all fatalities where coronavirus has been recorded on the death certificate.
Recorded weekly deaths in Northern Ireland’s care homes rose sharply after reporting by Nisra began on 20 March, and peaked in the week to 1 May, with 72 fatalities.
By last Friday – out of 664 Covid-19 related deaths recorded by Nisra in total – 303, (45.6%), occurred in care homes; 322 (48.5%) occurred in hospital and six (0.9%) occurred in hospices.
Thirty-three (5%) took place at residential addresses or another location.
The deaths in care homes and hospices involved 76 separate establishments, Nisra reported.
In the week to 15 May, the number of people who died in care homes, 32, was higher than the number of deaths in hospital settings, 27.
People aged over 75 accounted for more than three-quarters (79.3%) of all Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland What is Northern Ireland’s overall picture in terms of confirmed deaths?
There is a considerable difference in the death tolls in the two sets of figures published in Northern Ireland.
While Nisra recorded 664 deaths by 15 May, the Department of Health – which records deaths of patients who tested positive for coronavirus, and therefore mostly died in hospital – had recorded 472 deaths by the same date.
Nisra’s toll is higher because its weekly bulletin, released each Friday, records all fatalities with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate, regardless of where the individual died and whether or not they had been tested for the virus.
The disparity between the two sets of figures has caused confusion, but the department said there was always a time lag for registering deaths in the community – which can take five days – so Nisra’s report could not feasibly be linked to the daily figures.
The total death toll is ultimately set to be higher.
The latest figures from Nisra also include a breakdown of all Covid-19 related deaths by council area.
Of the 11 councils, Belfast has recorded the most deaths, 196, while Fermanagh and Omagh has registered the fewest deaths, recording 16.
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland’s excess deaths
The total number of all deaths registered in Northern Ireland in the week ending 15 May was 396; rising from 336 in the previous week – and higher than what would be expected at this time of year.
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The five-year average death rate in Northern Ireland is 295.
Nisra said there had been 867 “excess deaths” registered in Northern Ireland over the last seven weeks.
This measure captures all deaths caused by the coronavirus: the infections that were confirmed and feature in the daily figures; as well as the suspected cases that were mentioned on the death certificate.
It also captures the deaths caused indirectly by the epidemic: people who died because of the strain on hospitals and care homes or people affected by the lockdown.
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