Coronavirus: Northern Ireland death toll reaches 2,000

Department reports 234 confirmed cases as incidence continues to fall under lockdown

The rate of transmission of Covid-19 in the North is continuing to fall, with the average number of positive cases per 100,000 over the last seven days now at 111.3. File photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The rate of transmission of Covid-19 in the North is continuing to fall, with the average number of positive cases per 100,000 over the last seven days now at 111.3. File photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

 

The number of coronavirus-related deaths recorded by the North’s Department of Health has reached 2,000.

The deaths of four more people with Covid-19 were reported by the department on Monday.

A further 234 people tested positive for the virus.

In the North’s hospitals 477 people are receiving treatment for Covid-19, with 59 in intensive care.

Northern Ireland records two sets of Covid-19 statistics. The figures provided daily by the department count patients who have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, while the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) releases data weekly based on information entered on death certificates completed by medical professionals, whether or not there was a positive test for the virus.

According to most recent Nisra figures, which were released on Friday, 2,614 people have died with Covid-19 in the North.

A total of 1,676 people, or 64.1 per cent, died in hospital, with 737 (28.2 per cent) of deaths in care homes, 13 (0.5 per cent) in hospices and 188 (7.2 per cent) at residential addresses or other locations.

Meanwhile, the rate of transmission of the virus in the North is continuing to fall, with the average number of positive cases per 100,000 over the last seven days now at 111.3.

Fermanagh and Omagh now has the lowest number of positive tests per 100,000 in any of the North’s council areas, at 43.7, while Mid Ulster is the highest at 210.1.

However, last week health chiefs warned there were signs that the fall in cases was beginning to plateau, and urged people to keep following public health advice and sticking to the restrictions.

The North has been under a strict lockdown to limit the spread of the virus since St Stephen’s Day, with schools closed, as well as most of the hospitality industry and non-essential retail.

The Northern Executive is due to meet later this week to review the current restrictions, including a potential date for the reopening of schools.

Dr Joanne McClean from the Public Health Agency told the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show that schools were “not the major source of transmission ... the risk for the staff in the classroom is not higher than other workforces and part of that is due to the excellent measures that schools have put in place”.

But she warned that pupils and staff could not be “magicked” into school classrooms, saying that there were “two bits to this, there’s the bit that goes on in the classroom that schools can control ... and then there is the bit that goes on outside the gates.

“You just need to look at a school ... a child goes to school, all the measures are in place but the minute they come out that door, there is mixing and parents mixing.”

Trade unions representing staff in special schools in the North, which have remained open during the pandemic, have called for all special school employees to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile a further £300 million in Covid-19 relief funds has been allocated to Northern Ireland by the UK treasury.

The money can be used this year or carried over into the next financial year.

The North’s Minister for Finance, Conor Murphy, said it would be used towards the North’s Covid-19 response, and would help ensure “continued support for the health service, individuals and businesses in the tough months ahead”.

Northern Ireland has so far received more than £3 billion as part of its share of Covid-19 relief funding allocated to the devolved administrations by the British government.