The postcode area in which Health Minister Robin Swann lives recorded 40 Covid-19 deaths in just one month, it can be revealed.
ccording to figures released by Northern Ireland’s Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), there were 30 Covid-19 related deaths in BT42 between March 19 and December 4 last year.
By January 8, there were 70 Covid-19 related deaths in BT42, which includes the rural villages of Cullybackey, Galgorm, Broughshane and Kells – where Mr Swann lives. The postcode had the highest Covid-19 death toll in Northern Ireland between December 4 last year and January 8 this year.
Meanwhile, according to the Department of Health’s latest statistics, Mid & East Antrim, which covers BT42, has the fourth highest Covid-19 death toll. The virus has been linked to 163 deaths there since the beginning of the pandemic.
Belfast has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 deaths, with 340 residents losing their lives since last March, followed by 208 deaths in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon and 178 deaths in Antrim and Newtownabbey councils.
The figures have come to light on one of the bleakest days in the pandemic so far, with the Prime Minister apologising as the UK surpassed 100,000 Covid-19 related deaths.
Speaking at a briefing yesterday afternoon, Boris Johnston was asked what had gone so wrong with the UK’s pandemic response given the fact the Government originally hoped to contain deaths to 20,000.
He said: “On this day I should really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done. What I can tell you is we truly did everything that we could and we continue to do everything that we can to minimise loss of life and minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage and a very, very difficult crisis for our country and we will continue to do that.”
According to the latest Department of Health figures for Northern Ireland, there were 16 deaths reported yesterday, while a further 550 cases have been confirmed. Pressure on the health service remained high, with 771 Covid-19 inpatients and three hospitals operating over capacity. Of the 771 inpatients, 68 were receiving critical care.
Mid & East Antrim DUP councillor William McCaughey, who is also a resident of Kells, last night described the recent spike in deaths in BT42 as “alarming”.
He said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to any family that has lost a loved one. Whether it is one death, 40 deaths or 400 deaths, it is too high.
“As a council, we do our best to encourage people to stick by the regulations and adhere to public health guidance to try and curb the spread of the virus and reduce the devastating impact on families.”
The council hit the headlines last September when it became one of the areas where a mini lockdown was imposed in response to a spike in cases. The additional measures, which included restrictions on travel and socialising, appeared to have an impact on the number of positive cases. However, at the start of December, the number of positive cases in the area began to rise again.
According to Department of Health figures, the seven-day rate for positive cases per 100,000 of the population between November 24 and 30 last year was 199.9, with 277 people in the council area testing positive for the virus.
This made it one of the worst affected areas in Northern Ireland at the time.
Statistics released by NISRA have highlighted a number of other areas that have fared badly in the last few weeks of 2020.
They show 32 deaths were recorded in the postcodes covering Newtownabbey between December 4 last year and January 8 this year. Londonderry was also badly affected – 34 deaths were reported in BT47 and BT48 over the month-long period.
BT80, which takes in Cookstown, recorded 20 deaths between December 4 last year and January 8 this year. Mid Ulster has also reported high Covid-19 positive cases throughout the pandemic.