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NI coronavirus deaths fall for fifth week in a row

By Jayne McCormack
BBC News NI Political Reporter

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The number of Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland has fallen for the fifth week in a row, figures show.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) has published its latest statistical bulletin.

By last Friday, it had recorded 757 deaths in total. 36 deaths occurred in the week ending 29 May, it said.

NI's Department of Health, which releases daily figures, had recorded 528 deaths in total - more than 200 fewer - by the same date.

Nisra records all fatalities where Covid-19 is mentioned on a death certificate.

One more Covid-19 related death was reported by the Department of Health on Friday, bringing its total to 536.

The death happened on 30 May but has only now been added to the department's figures, which only record deaths where a patient had tested positive for the virus.

The latest figures on the department's interactive dashboard also show three new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing that total to 4,776.

It also records 55 confirmed Covid-19 inpatients across Northern Ireland, with 10 patients being treated in intensive care units.

Meanwhile, Nisra's weekly figures also show that care home residents accounted for more than half of Covid-linked deaths in Northern Ireland.

Of those deaths, 328 (82.8%) occurred in a care home, with the remaining 68 taking place in hospital.

The bulletin also states that deaths in care homes are falling, with nine of the 36 deaths recorded in the week ending 29 May taking place in care homes.

Nisra said that is a drop of more than 25% in the previous week.

Nisra's report says of the 757 deaths it recorded by 29 May, 328 (43.3%) occurred in care homes; 381 (50.3%) occurred in hospital and eight (1.1%) occurred in hospices.

Residential addresses or another location are recorded as being the site of 40 deaths (5.3%).

The deaths in care homes and hospices involved 78 separate establishments, Nisra reported.

People aged over 75 accounted for 80% of all Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland.

The latest figures from Nisra also include a breakdown of all Covid-19 related deaths by council area.

Of the 11 councils, Belfast has recorded the most deaths, 226, while Fermanagh and Omagh has registered the fewest deaths, recording 16.

Northern Ireland's excess deaths

Nisra said the total number of all deaths registered in Northern Ireland in the week ending 29 May was 316; falling from 325 in the previous week - but higher than what would be expected at this time of year.

The corresponding five-year average death rate in Northern Ireland is 279.

Nisra said there had been 939 "excess deaths" registered in Northern Ireland over the last nine weeks.

This measure captures all deaths caused by the coronavirus - the infections that were confirmed and feature in the daily figures, as well as the suspected cases that were mentioned on the death certificate.

It also records the deaths caused indirectly by the epidemic, such as people who died because of the strain on hospitals and care homes or by the effects of the lockdown.

What do we know about the situation in NI's care homes?

Three separate care homes in Northern Ireland have publicly reported deaths in double figures, including:

The Department of Health has said testing will be carried out for all care home staff and residents by June.

There have been 170 confirmed or suspected Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes across Northern Ireland, according to figures from the Department of Health.

The money will be used to help pay staff when off on sick leave, provide extra support for cleaning costs and to purchase specialist equipment.

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