NI Minister of Health Robin Swann tests positive for Covid-19

Minister says he will carry out his duties ‘as fully as possible’ while isolating

Northern Ireland's Minister of Health Robin Swann has tested positive for Covid-19, he said in a post on Twitter.

Mr Swann shared an image of a positive antigen test on Sunday, and said he would continue to carry out his duties “as fully as possible” while he isolates.

It comes after a Stormont minister expressed hope that a decision could be made to relax remaining Covid regulations in Northern Ireland early this week.

Minister of Justice in the North and Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said she had responded to a letter from Mr Swann indicating she did not believe that a move by him to ease restrictions would be considered controversial.


Mr Swann received advice on Thursday that highlighted potential legal complications of him acting without the wider endorsement of an Executive.

He then wrote to other ministers asking for their input, and asked them to respond by Monday.

The present Covid-19 regulations in Northern Ireland are not due to expire until March 24th, but were previously reviewed by the Executive every three weeks.

But Northern Ireland has no functioning Executive after the DUP removed Paul Givan as first minister as part of a protest against the Northern Ireland protocol.

Ms Long told the BBC Sunday Politics programme that the issue of Mr Swann acting alone to remove the restrictions is a “complex legal question that hasn’t really been tested”.

She added: “Why Robin [Swann] had written to us was to show us the legal advice which he had received about his powers, it has been custom and practice for him to bring changes to the regulations to the Executive for approval.

“I am of the view that the Executive have an established policy on this and we should be able to continue within our own departmental portfolios to make decisions.

"Our established policy is, and has been, well stated by all ministers that we would not retain restrictions any longer than was absolutely necessary provided the CMO [chief medical officer Michael McBride] and CSA [chief scientific adviser Prof Ian Young] give Robin advice which says that they are no longer necessary then I think he is empowered within that policy to start to remove restrictions.

“I think he has a difficult choice to make because he then needs to consider whether decisions he makes will have implications for other ministers so he has written to us all.

“I have responded to him to say that I don’t think it is cross-cutting in the sense that it impacts on my department in a significant way. I also don’t think that it is controversial in that it is covered by existing policy.

“I hope that in writing that back to Robin on Friday we have given him some space to be able to take decisions early this week.” – PA