Coronavirus in Northern Ireland – Six months later


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PPE in action at the Antrim region hospital

The first case of the coronavirus in Northern Ireland was confirmed by the Public Health Agency in February.

In less than a month, the first death had been announced. To date, a total of 560 deaths have been recorded by the Ministry of Health.

As of Friday, August 21, there have been a total of 871 deaths linked to Covid-19, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (Nisra).

The department’s figures mainly reflect hospital deaths and cases where patients had tested positive for the virus, while Nisra’s weekly figures cover all deaths in which the coronavirus was recorded on the death certificate.

BBC News NI looks back on the past six months when the coronavirus made headlines.

The first case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland was diagnosed in a woman on February 27, 2020. She had traveled to northern Italy and flew to Dublin airport before traveling to North Ireland.

Authorities said the patient had shown a suspected positive result, which would be confirmed by a lab in England.

The first coronavirus-related death in Northern Ireland was confirmed on March 19, 2020.

The old man, who had an underlying medical condition, was being treated at a hospital in the greater Belfast area.

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Robin Swann warned that there could be 15,000 deaths in a “nightmare, worst case scenario”

At this early stage of the pandemic, Health Minister Robin Swann described the scale of the impending surge as “of biblical proportions”.

He said there could be 14,000 to 15,000 dead, adding that “it is a nightmare, the worst case”.

With the closure of schools in the Republic of Ireland on March 13, the first sign of division has emerged within the Northern Ireland executive over its handling of the crisis.

Twelve hours after the executive issued a concerted response to keep schools open, Sinn Féin Deputy Premier Michelle O’Neill broke ranks and insisted that schools close immediately.

All schools in Northern Ireland were closed on Monday March 23 and remained closed for five months.

Widespread food storage has become a concern in the first weeks of the lockdown, with Economy Minister Diane Dodds calling it “pretty serious”.

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The Premier and Deputy Premiers made joint appearances in Stormont, but often they weren’t singing from the same hymn sheet

On March 28, the executive announced an unprecedented set of emergency regulations that brought Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

They provided for powers for the police to take action against people who left their homes without ‘reasonable excuse’ and to impose fixed fines of up to £ 5,000.

Business owners could also be fined if they refuse to go out of business.

As the public grappled with new terminology, like the R number and community transmission, it was the provision of PPE, personal protective equipment, that grabbed the headlines.

From April 2, health unions demanded responses from Robin Swann and the Ministry of Health on the apparent lack of PPE.

On April 11, the minister announced that he had made a formal request to the military to help them deal with the pandemic.

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Measures taken by the government to strengthen the health service at the start of the pandemic have focused on increasing the capacity of beds in intensive care units, providing ventilators and establishing Nightingale hospitals.

However, it was the nursing homes that emerged as one of the hidden stories of the Covid crisis in Northern Ireland.

At the end of May, the Statistics and Research Agency of Northern Ireland (Nisra) revealed that residents of nursing homes were responsible for more than half of the deaths linked to Covid-19 in North Ireland.

At the top, 72 nursing homes have experienced a Covid-19 epidemic. An outbreak is defined when two or more cases in a nursing home are confirmed within a 14-day period among residents or staff.

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Large numbers of mourners turned out for Bobby Storey’s funeral

Divisions emerged again at the top of the executive when, in late June, Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill attended the funeral of Senior Republican Bobby Storey.

Premier Arlene Foster called on Ms. O’Neill to “step down”.

The Sinn Féin vice president apologized, saying she was “sorry for the grieving families who are suffering more,” but insisted she acted within the executive’s directives on coronaviruses.

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Generation Covid: A-level students protested in Belfast over how grades were assigned

In August, in an effort to suppress the virus, the executive announced that face masks would become mandatory in shops and other closed public spaces.

With exams being canceled due to the Covid-19 lockdown, Level A scores were calculated using a mix of teacher predicted scores and a Department of Education algorithm.

Education Minister Peter Weir was forced to make an embarrassing turnaround when more than a third of teachers’ estimated grades were lowered in the final results released on August 13.

Four days later, he announced that students would receive the highest grade predicted by their teacher or given using the algorithm.

“Still the biggest health crisis”

As summer draws to a close and schools begin the vast reopening process for the first time in five months, Health Minister Robin Swann has warned that the pandemic is still not gone.

On August 27, although hospital admissions and deaths were much lower than in the early stages of the pandemic, Mr Swann announced that the R rate was 1.3 and that hospital admissions were hospital were increasing.

NI chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young said daily cases of the virus had increased “more than tenfold since early July”.

“Right now, most of these cases are in younger people and show that hospital admissions and bed occupancy are slowly increasing,” he added.

“Nonetheless, it is clear that the virus is spreading and is all over Northern Ireland. ”

Mr Swann said he would turn to the executive to tighten regulations.

“It is still the biggest health crisis that we have had to face,” added the minister.

Coronavirus statistics for Northern Ireland

Official figures collected over the past six months give an indication of the development of the pandemic in Northern Ireland.

These statistics come from the Ministry of Health and reflect those who have had a confirmed positive test for Covid-19.

Coronavirus cases began to increase in Northern Ireland and the number of daily positive tests peaked in mid-April, reaching over 150 on April 19.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

New daily cases

The number of coronavirus-related deaths started to increase in late March, peaking towards the end of April, when 19 deaths were recorded in one day.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

New daily deaths

A total of 6,964 cases were confirmed on August 27, of which more than a tenth were diagnosed in the previous 14 days.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Total confirmed cases

Since March, 560 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded by the Ministry of Health, including ten deaths in the past 60 days.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Total deaths

In the past six months, people aged 20 to 59 have accounted for almost half of the total number of cases.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Number of cases by age group

More than half of the 560 recorded deaths were in people aged 80 and over.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Number of deaths by age group

The number of cases and deaths was recorded by area of ​​the council, geographically.

All 11 councils have seen a similar increase and decrease in cases over time, with most cases occurring in the Belfast City Council area.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

New daily cases by counseling area over time

The number of people admitted to hospital on a daily basis peaked in the first week of April, with more than 40 people admitted.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Admission to hospital

The total number of people treated in the hospital as inpatients was 346 on April 8.

Intensive care admissions followed a similar pattern, with the maximum number of patients treated in intensive care being 54 – this was April 10.

Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Covid-19 patients confirmed in hospital


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