Coronavirus: Eighteen more coronavirus deaths in NI

Conoravirus test-tubeImage source, Getty Images

A further 18 people have died with coronavirus in Northern Ireland, according to the Public Health Agency.

The total number of Covid-19-related deaths announced by the PHA is now 176.

The total death toll is likely to be significantly higher, following the publication of new figures earlier on Friday showing Covid-19 deaths were a third higher than reported.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) published a breakdown of its fuller figures.

This showed the total number of deaths by 10 April (157) was 39 higher than had been previously reported by the PHA.

Nisra's figures also included suspected cases, whereas the Public Health Agency using a different method had recorded 118 deaths, mostly in hospitals.

Nisra said that as well as 109 hospital deaths, 41 people had died in care homes and hospices, while seven had died at home addresses.

Coronavirus deaths in Northern Ireland. By location up to 10 April 2020. Number of deaths occurring involving COVID-19, by Place of Death in Northern Ireland, up to 10 April 2020 .

The deaths in hospices and care homes involved 23 establishments.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has been producing a daily bulletin detailing the number of recorded deaths of people with Covid-19.

Earlier this week, Nisra said it would be publishing a weekly report with statistics of registered deaths.

The daily figures reported by the PHA record mostly hospital deaths, whereas Nisra's weekly figures are all deaths in Northern Ireland where coronavirus has been recorded on the death certificate.

The Department of Health said there was always a time lag for registering deaths in the community, with the process taking up to five days, and that the Nisra report could not feasibly be linked to the PHA figures.

Coronavirus deaths in Northern Ireland. By age up to 10 April 2020. Age range of coronavirus deaths up .

Nisra also said there were 435 deaths, in total, in Northern Ireland registered in the week ending 10 April.

It means Northern Ireland had recorded 140 more deaths than the five-year average (of 295) for the corresponding week.

The new figures show people older than 75 accounted for about 70% of coronavirus-related deaths; 52% were men.

There have been 847 more deaths in the UK in the past 24 hours, meaning a total of 14,576 people confirmed to have had the virus have died, with the overall number of cases across the UK reaching more than 100,000.

The actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher, as it is mostly those in hospital and some NHS staff who are currently being tested.

'Truly sobering'

The new figures were "truly sobering", if not unexpected, said Stormont's Health Minister Robin Swann.

"It reflects the cruel and heart-breaking reality of the situation," he said.

"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."

First Minister Arlene Foster said the report provided a fuller picture of the course of the virus across Northern Ireland, which would help inform the executive's response.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost someone to this disease," said the DUP leader.

"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."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill added that it was right that every life lost to the disease is recognised.

"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," she said.

"These actions will help to save more lives."