Covid-19: Three further deaths in Northern Ireland

Additional 163 infections registered as death toll from virus climbs to 2,066 in the North

On Wednesday 257 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in the North’s hospitals, with 29 in intensive care. File photograph: The Irish Times

On Wednesday 257 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in the North’s hospitals, with 29 in intensive care. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

The deaths of three more people with Covid-19 were reported in Northern Ireland on Thursday, bringing the total number of fatalities recorded by the North’s Department of Health to 2,066.

A further 163 people tested positive for coronavirus.

First Minister Arlene Foster said Northern Ireland had seen “quite a dramatic fall” in the number of people testing positive for the virus, and the pressure on hospitals was “thankfully gradually easing”.

On Wednesday 257 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in the North’s hospitals, with 29 in intensive care.

The reproduction number of the virus is now between 0.65 and 0.75.

The youngest pupils are due to return to school on Monday in what is the first easing of the strict lockdown measures which have been in force in the North since St Stephen’s Day.

Northern Ireland’s blueprint for exiting lockdown was published earlier this week, but has been criticised over the lack of dates in the document.

Reopening of schools

Speaking at an Executive press briefing on Thursday, Ms Foster said she hoped she would be able to give a “definitive answer” around the reopening of schools next week.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said that subject to levels of community transmission of Covid-19, “we are aiming to have all students safely returned to school as soon as possible after the Easter holidays”.

She said ministers hoped restrictions would be significantly relaxed by June 10th.

“That’s where we hope to get to but there are so many variables that we’re very cautious not to give people false hope,” she said. “We will provide dates for future easements as soon as we are in a position to do so with confidence.”

The number of people to have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine is estimated to reach 600,000 people by Friday.

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