East Derry MLA Cara Hunter.
The Covid-19 rate per 100,000 of population in County Derry has dipped for the first time in five weeks, with the number of cases identified also decreasing.
Falling from 781.6 the previous week to 653.8, the change marks some progress in reducing the impact of the virus, but it continues to take lives within the county – 16 last week across all three districts.
Seven Covid-related deaths were recorded in Mid Ulster, with six in Causeway Coast and Glens and three in Derry and Strabane.
The number of new cases recorded fell in every postal district, resulting in a 16.3% overall decline in across the county. There were 1.2% less tests carried out in comparison to the previous week.
Derry City's BT48 continues to retain the county's highest rate per 100,000 of population and, at 962.9, has the fifth highest rate in Northern Ireland.
Portstewart (BT55) has once again the lowest rate in the county at 280.1.
16.1% of all those tested in the county over the last week recorded a positive result, the figure marking a fall from the previous week's figure of 19%.
The number of patients being treated for Covid-19 in the area's hospitals has risen from 96 to 115, with the biggest increase (+16) coming in Altnagelvin Hospital, where there are now 53 inpatients.
The figure in Antrim Area Hospital fell by three to 40, while two new inpatients were admitted to Causeway Hospital last week to bring their total to 22.
68% of the population (1,284,443) have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 1,161,433 (61%) have received two doses.
Meanwhile, East Derry MLA Cara Hunter has warned that extreme pressure on the health service is manifesting itself in staff shortages and burnout.
A & E Departments across Northern Ireland reported being under severe pressure over the weekend, and Ms Hunter said many staff were under 'unimaginable stress'.
“Each passing day seems to bring a new revelation further emphasising the crisis unfolding within our health service,”she said.
“It is hardly surprising our health staff are reporting high levels of fatigue and burnout given what they have been dealing with over the last few years.
“Prior to the start of coronavirus pandemic many of our health staff were already overworked and underpaid in a health service that was struggling to meet demand.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic many have been dealing with unimaginable stress while trying to care for patients in the most difficult of situations.
“Many have also been forced to separate from their family and friends for periods in an attempt to keep them safe from the virus.
“Many of our health staff’s mental health is at breaking point and this is a problem that will have lasting impacts in the coming years.
“Some of the reports coming out of A&E departments over the weekend are terrifying. We are in the middle of a perfect storm, our hospitals are filling up with Covid patients.
“We lack the staff to treat waiting patients in our hospitals and most importantly we don’t have enough beds to meet demand.
“Where there are beds free we don't have the staff required to use them. We need to see urgent action to address these issues and protect both patients and staff.
“We are heading towards winter with Covid cases on the rise, we need to address this before things get even worse.”
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