Coronavirus: NI lockout extended by three weeks

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NHS Graffiti Victory in Londonderry

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Michael Cooper / PA

The closure of the coronavirus in Northern Ireland is due to be extended until May 9, said Arlene Foster.

The Prime Minister said the executive made its decision after a long meeting on Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill said now is the time to “dig in, stay strong and save lives.”

The announcement came after six other people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland died in hospital in the past 24 hours.

This brings the number of hospital deaths in the NI to 140.

Since Tuesday, there have been 121 new confirmed cases – the total number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland is 2,088, with 13,672 people tested.

The Prime Minister said that since Northern Ireland remained in the first wave of the virus, it was important to do “everything we can to reduce the peak.”

“The greatest danger is complacency”

It is understood that the executive’s decision whether to continue the lockdown beyond the next three weeks will be reviewed no later than May 9, based on the data.

According to government coronavirus legislation, the need for restrictions must be reviewed at least once every 21 days, with the first review scheduled for April 16.

Legend

Arlene Foster thanked those who had so far respected the restrictions


O’Neill said she understood the measures to be “harsh” but that the public was only asked to abide by them to save lives.

“Our greatest danger during this period is complacency. The measures are producing positive results, but if we relax our behavior, we will be in danger, “said the Deputy Prime Minister.

She added that as soon as the first wave of the virus had passed, the executive would review its decision on the restrictions.

O’Neill said that Northern Ireland was “still in the peak period”.

Scotland and Wales have both said their lockdown should be extended, while First Secretary of State Dominic Raab said the British government does not expect any changes this week.

The Republic of Ireland has already extended its lockout until May 5.

From Friday, figures on the number of deaths in non-hospital settings must be published.

The Northern Ireland Agency for Statistics and Research (Nisra) said that, if possible, its weekly report would also indicate whether the deaths had taken place in nursing homes.

  • LIVE: Coronavirus in NI Updates
  • How the coronavirus spread across Northern Ireland

Earlier, Health Minister Robin Swann said the work of the Covid-19 modeling group indicated that the impact of the virus may now be “less severe in the first wave than we fear,”

He told the Northern Ireland Assembly that if the majority of people in Northern Ireland continued to follow social distancing measures, modeling was by no means a certainty of what would happen next with the virus and he warned against complacency.

Modeling had suggested that there could be 3,000 deaths in the first wave in Northern Ireland.

In other developments:

  • Northern Ireland’s economy is experiencing “the fastest and deepest” decline of all time, said Ulster Bank chief economist
  • Over 18,000 people in Northern Ireland have expressed interest in attracting NHS Department of Health workers
  • More tests needed to clarify and better understand how coronavirus affects life in Northern Ireland, said coroner
  • Gradual lifting of locking restrictions on the island of Ireland is possible in the “near future” – but only when better measures to detect Covid-19 are introduced, medical expert says.

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