BELFAST (Reuters) – Forty-eight people died in Northern Irish care homes and private residences on top of the 109 COVID-19 hospital deaths reported a week ago, the region’s statistics office said on Friday, adding to evidence that the UK toll is higher than so far reported.

There were 13,729 hospital deaths from COVID-19 across the United Kingdom as of 1600 GMT on April 15, the fifth highest official death toll in the world.

Broader data show the true death toll far exceeds that due to deaths in care homes and the wider community, but exact numbers are slower to emerge.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency said that 41 or 26% of the 157 deaths reported up April 10 occurred in 23 separate care homes and hospices with a further seven fatalities at private addresses

It was the first such breakdown of figures and added 39 more people to the death toll than had previously been reported from the data on confirmed cases for the same period, the region’s executive government said in a statement.

Northern Ireland public health agency (PHA), which gives a daily update, has reported another 51 deaths since the morning of April 11 from a total of 2,201 cases. PHA figures may not capture all deaths that occur outside hospital, the statistics office said.

While there have been 486 deaths across the open border in Ireland, it has two and a half times the population, has tested more than six times as many patients and includes deaths outside hospitals, which accounted for 39% of fatalities.

More than half of all deaths in Ireland are associated with nursing homes, though some of those patients had been moved to hospital before they died.

Northern Ireland’s regional government decided this week to keep strict restrictions in place for another three weeks, in line with the rest of the United Kingdom and a similar lockdown in Ireland due to run until May 5.

“The publication of this additional detail will help inform the Executive’s ongoing response. But it is also extremely sad, as we learn that Covid-19 has robbed many more families of their loved ones,” Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said.

(Reporting by Ian Graham, writing by Padraic Halpin)