The number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and residential care facilities as a proportion of overall deaths has risen since last week, new figures show.
Residential and community care facilities including nursing homes accounted for more than 62 per cent of the 1,375 deaths reported by the Department of Health on Wednesday.
This was up from 58 per cent of the deaths reported 10 days ago. The share of nursing home deaths has risen to almost 54 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths, up from 49.5 per cent in that time.
There have been 857 deaths associated with residential care facilities, including 740 nursing home residents – up from 819 and 706 respectively on a day earlier.
The vast majority of these deaths took place in the care or nursing homes themselves.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said at the Wednesday briefing that 147 of the 857 deaths associated with residential and community care facilities, or 17.2 per cent, and 118 nursing home deaths, or 15.9 per cent of those deaths, took place in a hospital.
The elderly and nursing home residents in particular have borne the brunt of the pandemic in the country as the number of clusters – each defined as two or more cases – in the homes have risen to 232, an increase of three in a day, and to 400 for residential care facilities overall.
There were 5,370 coronavirus cases in residential care facilities, or 24.4 per cent, of the total 22,248 cases. These include 4,268 cases in nursing homes, or 19.4 per cent of all the cases.
The State’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan addressed a question at Wednesday’s briefing on whether the department was confident all Covid-19 deaths are being reported.
He said officials relied on three sources of information: comparing lab-confirmed and probable deaths with deaths notified by nursing homes and facilities registered with the sector’s regulator, the Health Information and Quality Authority, and census-reported deaths per week.
State officials were seeing “a broad matching” in the figures. He couldn’t give an assurance that every single possible Covid-19 case was being notified but that they were certain that there was not “an experience of mortality” in institutional settings that officials had not identified.
He noted that there was a three-month lag in the notification and registration of a death, which was relatively longer than in other countries, and he wanted to see that shortened, he said.
A fear of infection and the public distancing recommendation were discouraging people from going into an office to register that death but he urged people to register deaths online, he added.