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Source: Traditional Unionist Voice – Northern Ireland

Statement by TUV MLA Jim Allister:

“The focus of the Health Service and society radically changed in March this year as the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores. The decision to ramp up capacity to deal with an unknown disease was understandable. Having seen the ravages of the virus particularly within the care home sector no one can question the fact that Covid was a real danger to many lives.

“That said, as time has gone on I have become increasingly concerned at the lack of public health messaging around other conditions. Other diseases are not and never were furloughed. Across our Province there is not a single family which has not been impacted in some way by cancer. It is a disease which never went into lockdown. In fact, I fear that it may have been given much more freedom than in a normal year to wreak havoc in communities.

“A recent answer from the Finance Minister underscored this. Since 1st January 2020 until 30 June 2,302 people have died due to cancer. That is three times more than those who have died through any link to Covid-19 (755). Indeed, the Covid-19 death toll is also lower than heart disease (843). Moreover, the number of Covid deaths where there are confirmed tests is 577.

“Early diagnoses is key when it comes to cancer. A delay of even a few months can be the difference between life and death and I fear that the message about “protecting” our NHS may be putting people off from seeking a potentially life saving diagnosis.

“I know of cases where important treatment has been delayed because people have even found it challenging to see a GP. It is odd that while for years we have had messages about the need to get symptoms checked now, in spite of almost daily press conferences about the health situation, this message has faded.

“I fear that we may well see a surge in diseases other than COVID, particularly cancer, and I hope the NHS is preparing for that. Recent tragedies in Daisy Hill and Craigavon underscore the fact that should such a surge come it is vital that the wards used to treat the patients are COVID secure. Cancer treatment needs to be safe – and people need to get symptoms checked and have their concerns addressed speedily.

“While there is lots of talk about the second wave of the virus perhaps it is time we warned of a possible tsunami of other diseases.”

Mr Allister’s question and the answer received are as follows:

Question: To ask the Minister of Finance how many people have died since 1 June 2020 of (i) cancer; (ii) heart disease; (iii) stroke; (iv) COVID-19; and (v) other causes.

Answer: NISRA collates data on registrations of death. Cause of death information is currently only available for registrations up to 30 June 2020. Between 1 June and 30 June 2020, (i) 398 people have died due to cancer; (ii) 130 people have died due to heart disease; (iii) 63 people have died due to stroke; (iv) 63 people have died due to Covid-19; and (v) 653 people have died due to other causes.

In the year to date (1 Jan to 30 June), (i) 2,302 people have died due to cancer; (ii) 843 people have died due to heart disease; (iii) 441 people have died due to stroke; (iv) 755 people have died due to Covid-19; and (v) 4,673 people have died due to other causes.

Deaths with a mention of Covid-19 on the death certificate are distinct from deaths due to Covid-19. Between 1 June 2020 and 11 September 2020, there have been 129 deaths registered which mention Covid-19 on the death certificate.

MIL OSI United Kingdom