COVID-19 Epidemiological Bulletin

This weekly report outlines the recent epidemiology of COVID-19 disease in Northern Ireland (NI), along with information about the genomic lineages (variants) of cases, detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater, the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes and excess deaths. It links to other sources of information about hospital admissions and COVID-19-related deaths. Further information will be added to this report over the coming weeks and months.

1 Summary

  • In the week ending September 25 2022 (Week 38), the number of new infection episodes detected through clinical and routine testing was 1300, an increase from 1095 the previous week.

  • In the study week ending 20 September 2022, the Office for National Statistics estimated the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 increased slightly to 23100 (95% credible interval: 15300 to 32400), equating to 1.26% of the population or around 1 in 80 people (the same as 1 in 80 people in last week’s study report).

  • There has been an increase in the amount of SARS-CoV-2 detected in wastewater in the current week compared to the previous week.

2 Incidence and prevalence of COVID-19

2.1 Episodes of COVID-19

Infection episodes detected through clinical testing reveal only a small fraction of the true number of cases, because only a minority of people who have COVID-19 disease are tested. We continue to monitor these because an increase may indicate increasing incidence or severity. The number of new episodes is shown by week overall (Figure 2.1), as a rate per 100,000 population by age band over time (Figure 2.2), as a rate per 100,000 population by local government district for the most recent week in a bar plot (Figure 2.3) and over time in a heat map (Figure 2.4). Supplementary tables of key figures are shown at the end of this document. The number of new episodes increased in week 38, at 1300 from 1095 in week 37. The 0-9 and 10-19 year-old age groups saw decreases in episode rates when compared to the previous week, whilst the remaining age groups saw an increase. Episode rates per 100,000 population were highest in 80+ year-olds (123.4 per 100,000 population). All local government districts saw increases in episode rates when compared to the previous week.

A change in LFT testing policy came into effect on the 22nd August 2022; most of the general population with COVID-19 symptoms will no longer be advised to take a lateral flow test, and free lateral flow tests for this purpose will no longer be available. It is therefore likely that there will be a change in the proportion of cases detected. Further detail can be found online here.

Weekly number of unique episodes of COVID-19, 2022

Figure 2.1: Weekly number of unique episodes of COVID-19, 2022