Northern Ireland has recorded its largest weekly Covid-19-related death toll in six months.
The virus was mentioned on the death certificates of 43 people in the week up to last Friday, latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) have shown.
The figure was up three from the previous week. It is the largest number of Covid-related deaths registered in one week since the week ending February 26th this year.
According to Nisra, there have been 3,129 deaths in the North related to the virus since the start of the pandemic up to the end of last week.
The figures are significantly higher than those from Stormont's Department of Health, which put the region's death toll at 2,337 on Friday, after it reported five more Covid-linked deaths.
The department records a Covid death on the basis of the deceased having tested positive for coronavirus. Nisra’s tally is based on Covid-19 being recorded on the death certificate, regardless of whether there had been a positive test or not.
About two-thirds (67 per cent) of Covid-related deaths occurred in hospitals, according to Nisra’s analysis.
A quarter (25 per cent) occurred in care homes, 0.4 per cent in hospices and 7.5 per cent at residential addresses or another location.
Just more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of all Covid-linked deaths were among those aged 75 years and over.
Over the period of the pandemic, Armagh city, Banbridge, Craigavon and Mid-Ulster local council districts all had a higher proportion of Covid-related deaths when compared with the overall death rate in each area.
A further 1,875 cases of Covid-19 were also confirmed in the North on Friday. The figure was up from 1,550 the previous day, and brings the overall number of infections detected since the outbreak began to 195,433.
Latest figures on hospitalisations have shown 383 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19, of which 45 are in intensive care.
Meanwhile, about one in every 40 people in the North is estimated to have the virus.
Chief medical officer Prof Michael McBride urged people to go outdoors over the region’s bank holiday weekend in an attempt to curb “very high” transmission rates.
“Covid-19 transmits best when people meet up indoors, particularly when there is poor ventilation,” he said.
“Make the most of the last days of summer and the best of the first days of autumn by meeting friends and family outdoors as much as possible. When inside, remember to open windows to increase ventilation and reduce your risk of infection.”
Prof McBride urged further uptake of vaccines among those who have not already been jabbed as “the most effective way of reducing transmission of the virus”.