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New figures reveal there was almost 2,000 excess deaths in Northern Ireland over a six-month period last year

Derry's council area had the lowest percentage of excess deaths out of the 11 NI councils

Deaths in Donegal

Figures published today show that there were 1,958 excess deaths in Northern Ireland from March 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020.

This is 15.4% above expected levels.

Excess deaths are a mathematical concept based on the difference between actual deaths from all causes in a period minus the expected number of deaths based on the average deaths for the same period over the last five years.

The figures published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) also show that in the period from March 1 to December 31 last year there were 1,903 Covid-19 related deaths.

The number of excess deaths during this period last year for males (1,045) is higher than that for females (913), whilst the number of Covid‑19 related deaths is slightly lower (948 male compared to 955 female deaths).

Three-quarters of excess deaths (74.9%) and Covid‑19 related deaths (77.8%) are accounted for by those aged 75 and over.

In this age group, the number of excess deaths were 17.9% above expected levels, compared to 15.4% for all ages.

The highest excess deaths as a proportion of expected levels were found for those aged 55 to 64 (older working age) in both males (21.6%) and females (18.7%).

The number of deaths in hospitals was slightly higher (+1.8%) than expected levels, as a combined effect of 1,156 Covid‑19 related deaths occurring in hospitals but 1,046 fewer non Covid-19 deaths in hospital.

In contrast, there were more non Covid-19 deaths occurring at home: combined with the 119 Covid-19 related deaths at home, this resulted in the majority of excess deaths (1,395 or 71.3%) occurring at home.

Belfast council area had the largest number of excess deaths (310), accounting for 15.8% of excess deaths in Northern Ireland.

However, Antrim & Newtownabbey LGD had the highest excess deaths as a proportion above expected levels (28.1%), while Derry City & Strabane council area had the lowest (7.4%).

Excess deaths were highest in the two least deprived areas, with around a 19% increase in deaths in both, compared to expected levels.

In the first three months of the pandemic (March to May 2020), Covid-19 was found to be the underlying cause for 706 deaths, accounting for 79.0% of the 894 excess deaths in that period.

Deaths due to malignant neoplasm (+6.8%) and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease (+13.1%) were above historical levels, whilst there were fewer respiratory deaths (-14.3%) compared to the previous five years.

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