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NI death rate rose by 17% over four months during…

The death rate in Northern Ireland rose by almost a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic between March and June, new figures have shown.

The latest research published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) has indicated there were 885 excess deaths in the region between March 1 and June 30.

This was 17.4% higher than what would be expected from five-year annual trends.

In the same period, Nisra noted 837 Covid-19 related deaths.

Most excess deaths (78.4%) and Covid‑19 related deaths (79.8%) involved those aged 75 years and over. In this age group, excess deaths were 21.3% above expected levels, compared to 17.4% for all ages.

The latest Nisra figures also revealed the number of deaths in hospital was slightly lower than expected levels between March and June, despite 434 Covid‑19 related deaths occurring in hospitals.

Care homes had similar levels of excess deaths (336) and Covid‑19 related deaths (346).

The majority of excess deaths (556 or 62.8%) occurred at home, while 44 Covid-19 related deaths occurred at home.

The Belfast City Council area had the largest number of excess deaths with 218, accounting for almost a quarter (24.6%) of the total number of excess deaths in Northern Ireland.

However, the Antrim & Newtownabbey council area had the highest excess deaths as a proportion above expected levels (28.4%), while Mid Ulster LGD had the lowest (7.0%).

Meanwhile, Health Minister Robin Swann earlier revealed that the PSNI and Border Force staff are involved in helping to enforce Covid-19 quarantine rules.

At the weekend, Spain was added to the list of countries where people must observe a 14-day quarantine when they return to Northern Ireland.

Mr Swann said random telephone checks will be carried out on returning travellers to ensure they self-isolate.

Those who do not could face fines of up to £1,000.

“Anyone landing who has come from a ‘red’ country is asked to complete a travel locator form – failure to do that is subject to a [financial] penalty,” Mr Swann told the BBC.

He explained that a company is carrying out the telephone checks, adding that in the event of no response, after three attempts that information will be passed on via Border Force to the PSNI and the Public Health Agency who will carry out more random checks.

At that stage travellers who still fail to comply will face fines.

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