One more person dies after testing positive for Covid-19 and 116 test positive in last 24 hours | “wake-up” call to nation delivered on the link between obesity and Covid-19
One more person has died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.
The latest statistics from the Department of Health dashboard reveal that the death took place in the last 24 hours.
The death toll now in NI is 2,137.
Meanwhile another 116 people have tested positive for the virus in NI in the last 24 hours, the latest Department of Health dashboard also revealed.
This number rises to 808 for the last seven days.
There are now 59 people in our hospitals with Covid-19 and 9 of that number are in ICU fighting the virus.
There are now only three cases of Covid-19 in NI Care Homes.
The news comes as a health minister warned about the link between obesity and Covid-19 in a “wake-up” call for the nation.
Lord Bethell told peers that British people were “carrying too much weight” and this was a factor in the pandemic.
He was responding to calls at question time in the Lords to do more to tackle obesity.
Lord Bethell said the World Obesity Federation’s Covid-19 report made “stark reading” for the UK.
“It’s clear that excess weight is one of the few modifiable factors that contribute to severe symptoms of Covid and, very sadly in some cases, to death.
“This is a wake-up call. Britain is clearly carrying too much weight. That is why the Government is committed to helping the country reduce obesity and get fit and healthy,” he said.
Tory Lord Robathan said being obese was a “huge factor” in deaths from Covid and called for further action “so everyone understands that being obese should not be socially acceptable, because obesity is killing people”.
Lord Bethell said obesity had been a “sad and tragic driver of death in Covid”, with overweight people 67% more likely to need intensive care than those who are not overweight.
“It isn’t our business to shame those who are overweight. It’s our business to enable those who seek to lead fit and healthy lives to take the necessary steps to reach that objective,” he added.
For the Opposition, Baroness Thornton said there had been 14 government obesity strategies since 1992 and, despite 689 policies, obesity rates had risen.
Lady Thornton said another major indicator was deprivation, with healthy foods three times more expensive per calorie than less healthy foods.
She urged ministers to address the fact that “people in lower socio-economic backgrounds do not have access to, and cannot afford, healthy and nutritious food”.
Lord Bethell said areas of deprivation undoubtedly had higher levels of obesity but added: “It is possible to buy affordable healthy foods at any price point.
“Food has never been cheaper than it is today and we have to put into people’s hands both the knowledge and the inspiration to take the necessary steps to shed the pounds that need to be shed.”
Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Lilley said the determination of the Opposition and much of the media to “pin the blame” on the Government for the high level of Covid deaths had “obscured the fact that the major reason we suffer from a high level of mortality compared to other countries is we are fatter than other countries”.
Lord Lilley said nearly two-thirds of adults were overweight and urged ministers to get these facts over to people “then they can take their own decisions as to whether they want to take this risk or not”.
Lord Bethell said it was an “unavoidable fact” that of 2.5 million Covid deaths reported by the end of February, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population was classified as overweight, including Britain.
Big Issue founder Lord Bird said people who were poor and obese were living in a “permanent emergency” and urged ministers to break this through education, better wages and social opportunity.
Lord Bethell said: “I don’t think poor people cannot lead healthy and fit lives. I don’t believe they can’t make the right decisions for their futures.
“I have the utmost respect for those who live in poverty and it’s for us to give them the inspiration and knowledge they need to make the right decisions.”