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24 Jan 2022

Foyle MLA Delargy urges Health Minister to record Covid-19 deaths of disabled people

Foyle MLA Delargy urges Health Minister to record Covid-19 deaths of disabled people

Pádraig Delargy: "Due to this not data being recorded here, we cannot fully understand the extent that Covid has had on disabled people."

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA, Pádraig Delargy, has written to the Health Minister to urge him to expand the collection of data regarding Covid-19 deaths.

Mr Delargy said he had done so in light of the lack of data in the North of Ireland on Covid deaths in relation to people who are disabled or d/deaf.

The term d/deaf is a category that records those who communicate via sign language only or make use of a hearing aid and can lip-read.

Foyle MLA Delargy, who is also Sinn Féin's disability spokesperson said that England records its Covid rates for disabled and d/deaf and that the Executuve in Stormont must do the same.

Mr Delargy added the reason the North should follow suit is so that the Executive can fully understand the effects of Covid on the disabled and d/deaf and be able to act accordingly.

He said: “I am concerned about the lack of data collection regarding COVID-19 deaths of d/Deaf and disabled people.

“The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) records the death rates for Covid-19 by age and gender, but the data relating to Covid deaths amongst d/Deaf and disabled people does not exist.

“Statistics in England had shown that from early 2020 to early 2021, six in 10 Covid-19 deaths were from people that were disabled. This confirmed concerns that disabled people were more at risk of the virus and required greater protection.

“Due to this not data being recorded here, we cannot fully understand the extent that Covid has had on disabled people, which has ramifications for policy decisions on restrictions and protection.

“We also know that in Britain ethnic minorities are at a higher risk of getting sick or passing away from the virus, but again, we don't collect the data to assess the risk to our ethnic minority communities.

“I have asked the Health Minister to work with NISRA to widen the scope of data collection to include disability and other Section 75 protected characteristics.”

The Derry News contacted the Department of Health who in turn referred us on to the NISRA.

A spokesperson for the NIRSA said in reply to Mr Delargy's comments: “As the pandemic progresses, NISRA has published additional research in relation to Covid-19 deaths, augmenting the information recorded on death certificates.

“NISRA published a research report on 22 December 2021 on Covid-19 deaths for a range of health, equality and socio-demographic characteristics.

“This report includes information on self-reported disabilities as collected on the 2011 Census.

“The report can be found by clicking this link with Table 1 on page 9 reporting on Covid-19 deaths by disability measured by limitations in daily activity.

“This research will be extended to cover later waves of the pandemic and further reports are planned to be published by mid-2022. In the next report, the number of Covid-19 deaths for persons self-reporting (1) deafness or partial hearing loss and (2) blindness or partial sight loss will be assessed.

“A link to other NISRA Covid-19 research and to the weekly deaths’ statistics can be found by clicking on: https://www.nisra.gov.uk/statistics/cause-death/covid-19-related-deaths.”

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