Coronavirus: North deaths fall for sixth week running

Total number of Covid-19-related deaths recorded by statistics agency now stands at 779

Signage is put up to guide shoppers in the Victoria Square shopping centre, Belfast. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Signage is put up to guide shoppers in the Victoria Square shopping centre, Belfast. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

The number of coronavirus-related death in Northern Ireland has fallen for the sixth week in a row, according to the latest figures.

Data published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) on Friday showed there were 19 deaths involving Covid-19 in the week ending June 5th.

The total number of coronavirus-related deaths recorded by NISRA now stands at 779, 45 per cent higher than the figure reported in the daily statistics released by the North’s Department of Health (DoH), which was 537 during the same period.

The department recorded one more coronavirus-related death on Friday, bringing the total number of fatalities recorded by the DoH to 539.

It is the second death involving Covid-19 reported by the department this week, after the North recorded four consecutive days of zero deaths. A further 16 people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland to 4,838.

Northern Ireland releases two sets of data on coronavirus fatalities. The DoH figures include all deaths recorded by Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts where there has been a positive test for coronavirus. These are mainly hospital deaths.

The NISRA figures are released weekly and are based on death registration. They cover deaths in all settings and include all fatalities that mention coronavirus on the death certificate, whether or not there was a positive test for Covid-19.

The statistics agency also noted that in the last 10 weeks, 973 “excess deaths” – which are defined as deaths above the average for the corresponding period in previous years – have been registered in Northern Ireland.

According to NISRA, 404 care home residents have died with Covid-19, which represents 51.9 per cent of all coronavirus-related deaths until June 5th.

A total of 334 people (82.7 per cent) died in a care home, and the remaining 70 fatalities occurred in hospital.

However, the NISRA noted “no assumptions can be made in relation to where or when the deceased contracted the disease”.

The 342 deaths the NISRA recorded in care homes and hospices involved 78 separate establishments.

People aged 75 and over accounted for almost 80 per cent of Covid-19 related deaths registered in the year until June 5th, according to NISRA. Just under 30 per cent of these, or 228 people, had addresses in the Belfast area.

All shops in Northern Ireland have been permitted to reopen from today after retailers were given the go-ahead by the North’s Executive on Thursday.

With the R number rate of infection now between 0.5 and 0.9, the North’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill, announced further relaxations of the lockdown in Northern Ireland.

People living alone will be permitted to visit each other’s households in Northern Ireland from this Saturday, June 13th, and groups of six to 10 people who do not live together can meet outdoors. Elite athletes also can train outdoors from Monday.

However, Ms Foster said the decision to relax the regulations had not been fast-tracked in response to the reopening of shops in the Republic of Ireland.

“I don’t think that that’s the case at all,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday.

“We have had our plan, we launched it back on the 12th of May, and in that plan we said we would take a step-by-step process out of the lockdown, and we would do it in a way that didn’t have a cumulative impact upon the transmission of the virus.

“We’ve been taking steps to come out, we do that in a gradual way, and we think that now is the right time to open all retail,” she said.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said it was a “very welcome decision which now allows our local retail sector as a whole to reopen and play its role in the economic recovery of Northern Ireland.” – Additional reporting: PA