Stormont’s Health Minister urged continued vigilance in the battle against Covid-19 as he reflected on the first anniversary of the first coronavirus death in Northern Ireland.
Robin Swann insisted better days were to come but warned of the threat still posed by the virus.
The Covid-linked death of an older man with an underlying health condition was reported on March 19, 2020.
The fatality was announced three weeks after the first confirmed case of the disease was reported in the region.
Within days of the first death, schools across Northern Ireland were closed as the first lockdown began.
“We are all very aware of the devastation caused by Covid-19 in the past year,” said Mr Swann.
“Our thoughts are very much with the families and friends of those who have died. I know I speak for people across Northern Ireland in saying that.
“We can see better days ahead in the battle against the virus, but we must never forget the pain and loss it has caused, nor can we ever overlook its capacity to inflict more suffering.
“We must remain vigilant and keep taking the steps that we know will stop Covid-19 spreading.”
The deaths of a further three people who previously tested positive for Covid-19 were reported by Mr Swann’s department on Friday.
The fatalities took to 2,103 the total number of deaths recorded by the Department of Health since the pandemic began.
The overall number of deaths linked to the virus is higher, as the departmental data only relates to those who have tested positive.
The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) collates information on all deaths in which Covid-19 has been recorded on a death certificate by a medical professional, whether the person had tested positive or not.
The Nisra toll, which is reported with a week lag, stood at 2,877 on March 12.
As of Friday lunchtime, 726,290 vaccines had been administered in the region – 655,581 first doses and 70,709 second doses.
Health authorities in the region have moved to reassure the public that recent problems with the UK supply of AstraZeneca jabs will not have a significant impact on the rollout plan for Northern Ireland, with a delay of around two weeks estimated.