Coronavirus: 13 deaths and 722 new cases in Northern Ireland
Doctor concerned that service in North could be ‘overwhelmed’ in coming weeks
Over the past week Northern Ireland experienced 345 virus cases per 100,000 of the population. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty
This brings the total number of deaths in the North since the outbreak of the pandemic to 671.
With heavy pressures now falling on hospitals and doctors’ surgeries due to Covid the department reported 722 new positive cases of the virus, bringing the overall total to 35,554 with 6,493 cases occurring in the past seven days.
Over the past week Northern Ireland experienced 345 virus cases per 100,000 of the population. While Derry and Strabane saw 489 cases per 100,000 the incidence of the virus in the council area is continuing to drop.
It is just ahead of Belfast with 473 cases per 100,000 of population. Two weeks ago in Derry and Strabane the rate was just under one thousand per 100,000.
There are now 360 Covid patients being treated in Northern Ireland hospitals with 38 in intensive care units and 33 on ventilators.
Because of the pressures two of the North’s five health trust areas – the Northern and Southern - appealed to people not to attend their accident and emergency departments unless it was absolutely necessary.
Dr Tom Black, chairman of the British Medical Association in Northern Ireland said the pressures were building because of the “triple whammy” of the pandemic, normal winter demands and the fact that a significant number of staff were sick or self-isolating due to Covid.
“It is the worst I have seen in my 35-year plus career and that would be the same for all doctors in Northern Ireland. We have never seen anything like this. This is probably the worst year in the NHS National Health Service in living memory,” he told the BBC.
“The concern is next week will be worse,” he said.
“This second wave seems to be much worse than the first wave,” added Dr Black. “We are not seeing the same mortality because the doctors have become very good at keeping people alive with the use of steroids and other drugs, but the concern that we have is does the health service become overwhelmed?”