Coronavirus: Worst hit area in NI revealed by new Nisra report

The Northern Ireland council area worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic is Antrim and Newtownabbey, new figures show.

By Niall Deeney
Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 6:34 pm
Samples are moved in a coronavirus testing facility
Samples are moved in a coronavirus testing facility

That is one of the findings of a new analysis of death rates during the worst months of the pandemic by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).

Nisra published a new report today that explores the ‘excess deaths’ recorded in March, April, May and June this year in detail.

To work out excess deaths, mathematicians first have to determine how many people would have been expected to die during normal circumstances. To do that, Nisra looked at the number of deaths recorded in each of the past five years to get an average.

This was then weighed against the number of deaths actually recorded in March, April, May and June.

During that time period, there were 885 more deaths recorded in Northern Ireland than would have been expected without the pandemic. In the same four months, there were 837 deaths recorded that were directly linked to coronavirus.

Belfast, with its large population size, accounted for the most excess deaths during the pandemic.

But there was a greater percentage increase in deaths in Antrim and Newtownabbey than any other council area, followed by the Causeway Coast and Glens .

There were 28% more deaths during the pandemic in Antrim and Newtownabbey than in previous years, and 24% more in the Causeway Coast and Glens.

The least affected areas in terms of excess deaths were Mid Ulster with a 7% increase, and Derry and Strabane with 8%.

The report also found that, despite 434 coronavirus deaths in hospital over the four-month period, there were actually 88 fewer total deaths recorded than the five-year average.

This could be explained, Nisra say, by people choosing to stay away from hospital and subsequently dying elsewhere.

There were 556 excess deaths at home during the same time period in Northern Ireland.

Another interesting finding in the Nisra report is that there was a greater increase in deaths in affluent areas than in less well-off areas.

The report states: “Excess deaths are highest in the two least deprived quintiles, with just over a 20% increase in deaths compared to the average of previous years.”

Those aged 75 and over accounted for the vast majority of excess deaths in Northern Ireland at 78.4%.

The excess deaths in each council, as a proportion of the average number of deaths in each area in previous years , is as follows:

• Antrim and Newtownabbey 28.4%

• Causeway Coast and Glens 24%

• Belfast 21.2%

• Lisburn and Castlereagh 20%

• Mid and East Antrim 17.7%

• Ards and North Down 15.6%

• Fermanagh and Omagh 15.6%

• Newry Mourne and Down 14.6%

• Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon 13.8%

• Derry and Strabane 8.1%

• Mid Ulster 7%