Coronavirus: Northern Ireland reports 10 further deaths

Minister announces new contact tracing measures after 290 more cases recorded

Pedestrians in Belfast which along with the rest of Northern Ireland re-entered a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown on Friday. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

Pedestrians in Belfast which along with the rest of Northern Ireland re-entered a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown on Friday. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

 

Ten more people with coronavirus have died in Northern Ireland, according to the latest figures released on Monday by the North’s Department of Health.

It brings the total number of fatalities recorded by the department to 996. A further 290 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours.

The North’s hospitals are currently treating 427 patients with coronavirus, and 36 are in intensive care.

The North entered another two-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown on Friday, in a bid to drive down transmission rates ahead of Christmas.

Minister of Health Robin Swann said a range of contact tracing measures designed to find asymptomatic Covid-19 cases would be rolled out in Northern Ireland this week.

Testing of healthcare workers will begin to enable early identification and speedy isolation to reduce the risk of onward transmission.

Checking of students who do not display symptoms at Queen’s University Belfast is also scheduled to start this week using lateral flow devices, with plans for the wider population of students.

Mr Swann said: “The learning arising from these . . . will help us better understand how these new asymptomatic testing technologies can be implemented and extended more widely.”

Digital solutions to help warn people earlier are also being developed.

From November 16th, contact tracing has been enhanced.

Mr Swann added: “This is a significant development to our approach to combating the virus and will ensure a strong focus on identifying the likely source of the cause of infection and identifying potential common exposure which can lead to clusters.”

He told the Assembly he wanted to ensure the system was well placed to deal with the pandemic in the coming months.

This will involve the development of a hybrid model, including digital solutions to deliver early messages to contacts and cases while allowing staff to deal with more complex cases, outbreaks and clusters. – Additional reporting: PA