By Peter Moor
The death rate in Northern Ireland rose by almost a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic between March and June, new figures have shown.
New statistics suggest there have been 885 excess deaths in Northern Ireland during the COVID-19, compared to the normal average.
The excess mortality rate released today by NISRA compares the number of deaths in a given period with the average number of deaths in the previous five years.
This year's data from 1st March to 30th June suggest the death rate was 17.4% higher than the yearly average.
However, there is no indication that all of these excess deaths were related to COVID-19.
Whilst 885 excess deaths were recorded by NISRA, similar data by the agency suggest there were 837 COVID-19 related deaths, where the Coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate of the person who died.
Today's data also provides further breakdowns of the excess deaths, showing that almost 80% of these extra deaths were amongst those aged 75 and older - the age group most effected by COVID-19.
The figures also show that there were 63 more excess fatalities amongst women than men.
This may be due the fact that there are more women than men in Northern Ireland's care homes where a significant number of COVID-19 related deaths occurred.
The data also shows the majority of the excess deaths recorded were where the individual died at home, with excess deaths in care homes remaining fairly similar to the average.
Meanwhile, there were less excess deaths in hospitals than the yearly average.
This may be down to patients being discharged from hospital during the COVID-19 crisis to free up bed space to deal with a potential surge in patients.
This meant that there could have been more terminally ill patients in Northern Ireland who were being treated at home during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The total number of deaths in hospitals was lower than expected levels, despite 434 COVID-19 related deaths occurring in hospitals. The majority of excess deaths (556 or 62.8%) occurred at home. https://t.co/8NOHIiUXFx pic.twitter.com/wYZgZDMZka— NISRA (@NISRA) July 28, 2020
The largest number of excess deaths, around a quarter. were recorded in the Belfast area. Whilst the Mid Ulster area had the lowest percentage of excess deaths of any part of Northern Ireland, with just 7% of the additional deaths being recorded there.
The figures also suggest that the level of excess deaths were highest in the least deprived areas of Northern Ireland.
However, this is likely down to the fact that more vulnerable and elderly people live in these areas, whether that be in their homes, or in care homes, which are more often found in the less deprived areas than the most deprived areas.