The number of deaths from coronavirus in Northern Ireland could be a third higher than previously reported.
This follows the release today of new figures by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
As of April 10, figures collated by the Public Health Agency showed that there had been 118 deaths in Northern Ireland from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
These related to people who had died after testing positive for coronavirus.
However, figures released by NISRA today state that there were a total of 157 deaths as of April 10 in which COVID-19 had been mentioned on a person's death certificate as a cause or possible cause of death.
The NISRA figures, therefore, indicate an additional 39 possible deaths in Northern Ireland related to coronavirus than had previously been reported.
Of the 157 deaths, 109 of them have occurred in hospitals, 41 in care homes and seven in residential settings.
Of the 41 deaths in care homes, this has involved 23 separate establishments.
NISRA said that 70% of those who have died are aged over 75.
The statistics also show that to date this year in Northern Ireland, a total of 435 deaths have been registered.
This is in comparison with an average of 295 deaths for the same period over the last five years.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The publication of this additional detail on Covid-19 related deaths across Northern Ireland provides a fuller picture of the course of the virus across our communities which will help inform the Executive’s ongoing response. But it is also extremely sad, as we learn that Covid-19 has robbed many more families of their loved ones.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost someone to this disease. We think particularly of all those who have passed away in care homes and I want to send a very clear message to their families that your precious loved ones will not be forgotten.”
The deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We know that older people are particularly susceptible to the devastating effects of Covid-19, and our care homes are very vulnerable at this time. Every death as a result of Coronavirus is a tragedy and it is right that we recognise every life lost to this disease. I send my sincere condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in the most difficult circumstances.
“This new breakdown is a truer reflection of the scale of the pandemic in our community and is a poignant reminder of the need for everyone to stay at home; observe social distancing; and keep washing your hands. These actions will help to save more lives.”
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The daily surveillance report published by the Public Health Agency is a vital tool, giving a timely indication of the current situation and enabling us to anticipate pressures in our health service. In addition to this, we have been working closely with NISRA to ensure we are capturing as full a picture as possible as to the impact of Covid-19 across the community and, in particular, in our care homes.
“Today’s report, which indicates that a further 39 deaths were connected to Covid-19 up to 10 April, while not unexpected is truly sobering. It reflects the cruel and heart-breaking reality of the situation we are faced with.
“Regardless of where any person passes away as a result of Covid-19; regardless of the age of that individual; and regardless of any underlying conditions they may have had, every death is just as devastating. I offer my deep sympathy to each and every person who has lost a loved one.”
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