Ambulances queued outside Antrim Area Hospital last month.
The rate of positive Covid-19 cases confirmed in County Derry over the last seven days has fallen below the overall figure for Northern Ireland for the first time in 12 weeks.
Over the last week, the rate of cases per 100,000 of population has almost halved, from 809.8 last week to 474.4 over the last seven days.
The drop means the rate in County Derry is below the overall Northern Ireland rate (506.5) for the first time since last October.
A total of 41.4% fewer cases of Covid-19 were identified across the county over the last week, with the number dropping from 2009 to 1177.
15.8% of all Covid tests in the county over the last week were positive, with the highest positive rate (26%) recorded in Maghera's BT46 postal area.
Maghera's rate per 100,000 of population was also the highest in the county, and fifth highest in Northern Ireland last week at 824.6, while Portstewart has the lowest (170.5) with just 14 recorded cases.
There have been 23 Covid-related deaths across the county's local government districts over the past seven days, with the bulk (10) coming in Mid Ulster, where 1 in 40 are thought to have the virus.
Seven people died in Causeway Coast and Glens, while a further six deaths were recorded in the Derry City and Strabane area.
The data comes as hospitals across Northern Ireland brace themselves for those affected by the last fortnight's high figures entering the system.
A joint statement from the CEOs from all six health and social care trusts issued on Sunday night warned the situation was 'very serious'.
“We will be trying to contend with double the number of COVID positive patients compared to the current position, when several hospitals already have record numbers of patients,” they said.
“This is not a simple matter of putting up more beds. We need the staff to care for the increased number of patients.
“Pre-existing staffing pressures and staff absence because of COVID, and other reasons, mean that those staff simply aren’t there.
“Already several Trusts are having to stand down all but the most urgent elective surgery, including some red-flag cancer surgery, to redeploy staff to meet the urgent and immediate needs of extremely ill patients, especially both COVID and non-COVID patients needing ICU care.
“We have established a regional approach to ensure that any available theatre capacity across Northern Ireland is allocated for those patients most in need of surgery, both during surge and as we come out of this surge.
“This may mean that patients will need to travel further for their surgery. Cancer services are seeking to maintain chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other non-surgical treatments and alternative treatments will be provided in the absence of surgical options.
“Our staff, although exhausted, will once more go above and beyond to do the best they can for as many people as possible, and we thank them for it.
“It will definitely not be easy and the care that we are able to provide will at times fall short of the high standards we normally deliver but we will do our very best.
“Desperately ill patients whether COVID or non-COVID will always be the ones being prioritised.”
The statement called on the public to avoid attending emergency departments unless absolutely necessary and stressed patients would have to leave hospital once 'medically fit' to do so.
“That might mean accepting a placement where it is available and it might also mean families having to go the extra mile to provide temporary support for relatives.
“But we will need every bed that we have for those that are most in need. Never has the phrase ‘all in it together’ been so pertinent and just so important.
“The COVID-19 vaccines provide the long-term hope and the current lockdown offers the opportunity to shorten the duration of the current surge.”
“The public can play their part too by staying at home, practising social distancing and good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings.”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.