Coronavirus: Statistics reveal 40% of Covid-19 deaths occurred in care homes
Statistics released this morning have shown that 40 per cent of Covid-19-related deaths in the north occurred in care homes.
In its weekly breakdown of coronavirus figures, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) shows that 161 of the 393 deaths recorded by April 24 occured in care home and hospices.
Department of Health figures recorded 299 deaths by the same date.
The difference in the statistics, as explained by Nisra, is because it recorded deaths where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, but was not necessarily the definitive cause of death, while the Department of Health only recorded those who have died after a positive test for the virus
In today's report, Nisra said there had been 209 deaths in hospital, 158 in care homes, three in hospital and a futher 23 at residential homes or other locations.
There were 57 separate locations for the deaths in care homes and hospices.
Yesterday, the Department of Health received criticism over "gaps and losses" in its data around the spread of Covid-19.
The UK Statistics Authority said there was "serious public concern" about changes made in how the data is reported during the pandemic.
Director general for regulation Ed Humpherson said: "Daily surveillance statistics should be released in a transparent, easily accessible and orderly way.
"A news release on the departmental website and Twitter are not sufficient.
"There are gaps in the data and daily time series have been lost since the statistics began to be issued through Department of Health news releases.
"These gaps and losses need to be addressed."
Following the release of today's Nisra report, Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew said the figures show care homes are facing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic and reiterated calls for community testing.
“These figure released today are a stark reminder of the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic with so many families losing loved ones and my thoughts are first and foremost with all of those who have been tragically bereaved," he said.
“The health and social care system must ensure that care homes have testing, staffing support, admissions criteria and vital resources like PPE.
“While the figures released today reflect the situation as of last week, it shows how rapid this virus can spread across society.
The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch, said: “The latest figures from NISRA serve as another grim reminder of the devastating impact that coronavirus is having across our society. Sadly, it also highlights that older people living in care homes are particularly vulnerable, reinforcing the need for government to do everything in its power to try to protect them.
“There were 63 more deaths in care homes in the past week. That is more than all other settings combined, and something that is gravely concerning. With care home deaths accounting for 40% of all Covid-19 deaths now it is clear that these homes are the front line in this pandemic battle.
“As commissioner, I will continue to press all relevant authorities to take all the necessary action to help shield older people from this terrible virus, whether that be in care home settings or in their own home.
"There is nothing inevitable about care homes being infected by coronavirus and therefore a key focus must be on protecting all residents and staff through adequate PPE and a universal rolling system of testing. No stone must be left unturned in the fight to save lives.”