Coronavirus: Robin Swann to recommend new Covid-19 measures


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Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye / Fil Pa

The health minister raised the possibility of tightening the restrictions during a Stormont briefing on Tuesday

Health Minister Robin Swann is expected to recommend a tightening of Covid-19 restrictions when Stormont’s executive later meets.

These should include a recommendation to reduce the number of people allowed to meet indoors.

The move follows a marked increase in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The Department of Health confirmed 34 more cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.

The total death toll remains at 559 after no additional deaths were announced on Wednesday, with a total of 6,505 positive tests since the start of the pandemic.

The number of new daily cases has increased significantly since the end of June.

It is understood that ministers may also raise questions about plans to return students to school and the effect that improved examinations for out-of-school students will have on local colleges and universities.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Swann said “we must intervene now” to deal with the increase in new cases.

The health minister said there was not a single trend to explain the recent increase in the number of cases – otherwise it would be easier to act.

“We can’t put our finger on any particular location, business or industry as to the cause of the number of increases and positive tests we’ve seen. ”

He also declined to rule out a return to full lockdown in the coming months.

Decisions on the restrictions will be taken after ministers have taken advice from Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer, Dr Michael McBride, and chief scientific adviser, Professor Ian Young.

Professor Young said on Wednesday that Northern Ireland currently has a higher rate of Covid-19 per 100,000 population than the rest of the UK.

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Professor Ian Young said there had been a tenfold increase in new infections since the start of July.

He said there had been a tenfold increase in new infections since the start of July, with nearly 300 new cases confirmed in Northern Ireland last week.

Northern Ireland’s rate currently showed 24 cases per 100,000 in the past 14 days, evidence that indicates the virus is spreading again, he added.

In the Republic of Ireland, lockdown measures that had previously been lifted have been rolled back – with restrictions on the number of people allowed to congregate in indoor and outdoor spaces.

Gatherings indoors – excluding shops, restaurants and other businesses – should be limited to six people.

People over the age of 70 are again encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, and people are recommended to work from home and avoid public transport.

The Republic of Ireland’s Department of Health recorded two deaths from the virus and 54 additional cases on Wednesday.

There have now been 1,775 Covid-19-related deaths in the country and 27,547 cases.


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