Northern Ireland: One further death and 89 new cases of Covid-19 reported

One million vaccine doses administered, with nearly 200,000 fully vaccinated

Over one million vaccine doses have been given in Northern Ireland. File photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Over one million vaccine doses have been given in Northern Ireland. File photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

One more person with Covid-19 has died in the North, bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic started to 2,129.

There have been a further 89 new cases identified, with the overall number of positive cases to date rising to 118,267.

Stormont’s Minister of Health Robin Swann declared over the weekend “another landmark” in the fight against the coronavirus as the number of vaccine doses administered in the region broke the one million mark.

More than 820,000 people have been given a first jab, with over 194,600 having received their second dose, bringing the total number of jabs to 1,014,642, as of Sunday.

Vaccines are being administered at regional vaccination centres, GP practices and by about 350 community pharmacists, and appointments can currently be booked by anyone over the age of 40.

Mr Swann said the reopening of schools on Monday would be “another step towards the normality that we all want to see.”

“Many sacrifices have been made to get us to this point and I would like to commend the collective effort of the people of Northern Ireland for getting us here,” he said.

But he warned of the “need to remain cautious in our approach so that we do not undo the hard-won progress that we have made.”

“Covid-19 is still present in our communities and therefore it remains as important as ever, that we all follow the public health advice,” he cautioned.

“Understandably children and young people will be looking forward to seeing their friends and classmates again but it’s vital that the safety measures put in place are adhered to.”

The North’s Minister for Education Peter Weir said the return of all pupils to school is “a significant milestone” which will see many children back in classrooms for the first time in months.

“For all of us the priority must be to keep our schools safe and ensure they remain open,” he said.

“For staff and pupils this means following social distancing guidance, good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings where required.

“Parents and guardians can play their part by wearing a mask when they are picking up or dropping off their child and not congregating around the school gates.”

Over the weekend, Patricia Donnelly, head of Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme, said there was a determination to “maintain the momentum” of the rollout, but cautioned progress was dependent on the availability of vaccine supplies.

“We expect supplies to be somewhat limited for the next few weeks and then to pick up again by the end of April or beginning of May,” she said.