Coronavirus: Health department criticised over statistics

By Louise Cullen
BBC News NI

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The UK Statistics Authority has reprimanded NI's Department of Health over its reporting of the Covid-19 figures.

It said a news release on a departmental website and Twitter are "not sufficient".

Director General for Regulation Ed Humpherson said information should be released in "a transparent, easily accessible and orderly way".

Responsibility for reporting moved from the PHA to the Department on 19 April.

A dashboard containing comprehensive daily information was launched, but taken down two days later when a figure it contained was incorrect.

In a letter to Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly, Mr Humpherson said there was "limited explanation of the nature of the error".

He pointed out that there have been gaps in the daily data, and other information has been lost since the statistics began to be issued through daily news releases.

He acknowledged, however, that it is clear the department wants to address the issues and resume publication of comprehensive information when the quality of the data is assured.

The Department of Health said a Covid-19 interactive statistics dashboard would be available from Friday at 14:00 BST.

"The dashboard has undergone some revision and in response to user feedback, we have introduced a mobile and tablet friendly version," it said.

As well as the total number of Covid-19 deaths, it will include positive test results by gender and age group, as well as ICU beds available and occupied, including the number occupied by Covid-19 patients.

There have been 347 coronavirus-related deaths in Northern Ireland after a further nine were confirmed on Thursday.

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