Nisra: Almost 2,000 excess deaths in 10 months in NI

By Marie-Louise Connolly
BBC News NI Health Correspondent

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There were almost 2,000 excess deaths in Northern Ireland from the start of the pandemic until the end of 2020.

Excess deaths indicate the number of deaths above what would normally be expected.

According to the NI Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra), the number of excess deaths from 1 March to 31 December 2020 was 1,958.

The agency recorded a very similar number of Covid deaths in the same period - 1,903.

This increase in mortality represents a 15.4% hike above expected deaths.

Men represented a higher number (1,045) than women (913).

Deaths at home rise

The Nisra bulletin highlights that the vast majority of excess deaths (74.9%) are among those aged 75 and over.

Deaths recorded as being due to Covid-19 reflect where the virus was described as "suspected" or "probable" anywhere on the death certificate, including alongside other health conditions.

Numbers started to climb from June onwards.

Compared to previous years the number of excess deaths of people who died at home is much higher.

In fact it is nearly 12 times the number of Covid-19 related deaths at home (119) and accounts for 71.3 % of excess deaths during the 10 months.

According to Nisra excess deaths in care homes peaked in April with 297 deaths, which was 119.9% higher than the average number of deaths in the previous five years (24).

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The analysis in this report compares deaths between March and December 2020 with the average of the previous five years.

It is recognised that there could be deaths that occurred in this period, but that have not yet been registered. This is most likely in the more recent months.

Locations most affected by excess deaths include Belfast (310) which accounts for 15.8%, then Antrim and Newtownabbey followed by Fermanagh and Omagh.

Derry City and Strabane had the fewest excess deaths as a proportion of historic deaths.

On the cause of death among excess numbers from 1 March to 31 May, Covid-19 accounts for 79.0% of cases.

There were 75 deaths due to malignant neoplasm (tumours) while dementia/Alzheimer's disease accounted for 62 deaths.

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