Northern Ireland confirmed its second-highest total of new Covid-19 cases on Thursday since the pandemic began, with 3,227 infections.
The number is just four below yesterday's record figure, and comes as the region's Department of Health reported one further death with the virus in the latest 24-hour period.
On Thursday morning, there were 254 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 34 were in intensive care.
It comes as 35 deaths linked to the virus in the region have been recorded in the latest weekly update from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).
The figure is up on the 28 fatalities in the previous week. The latest deaths, which happened in the week ending December 17th, take the total number of coronavirus-linked fatalities recorded by Nisra to 3,988.
The Nisra figure is drawn from different data sources and is always higher than the Department of Health’s total, as it provides a broader picture of the impact of Covid-19.
On December 17th, the department had reported 2,949 deaths. Its statistics focus primarily on hospital deaths, and only include people who have tested positive for the virus.
Nisra obtains its data from death certificates on which Covid-19 is recorded as a factor by a medical professional, regardless of where the death took place or whether the patient tested positive.
The statistics agency reports its Covid data with a week lag.
The Nisra figure includes 2,777 deaths in hospital, 866 in care homes, 16 in hospices and 329 at residential addresses or other locations.
Nisra reported that up to December 17th, the deaths of 1,139 care home residents were linked to Covid-19, 29 per cent of all coronavirus-related deaths.
Covid-19 was also mentioned on the death certificate of 32 of the 363 deaths registered in the week to December 17th.
Some of the deaths registered in the week December 11th to December 17th could have taken place before that week, as deaths can take a number of days to register.
Those aged 75 and over accounted for 73.6 per cent of the 3,969 Covid-related deaths registered between March 19th 2020 and December 17th 2021.