Ten more Covid-19 deaths in North and 679 new cases

Scheduled ending of lockdown on Friday week would be an ‘act of careless vandalism’

The highest Covid-19 rate is in Northern Ireland is now in Mid-Ulster which over the past week experienced 353 cases per 100,000. File photograph: Alan Betson

The highest Covid-19 rate is in Northern Ireland is now in Mid-Ulster which over the past week experienced 353 cases per 100,000. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

The North’s Department of Health has recorded 10 new deaths related to Covid-19 in its daily bulletin issued on Wednesday afternoon, taking the pandemic death toll in Northern Ireland to 740.

Since the Northern Executive introduced a four-week lockdown on Friday, October 16th, there have been 132 coronavirus-related deaths in the North.

On that date, Northern Ireland reported a record 1,299 confirmed new cases of the virus. The daily figure, as reported by the department on Wednesday, has now come down to 679, bringing the overall total to 40,858.

And with pressures causing problems at Northern Ireland hospitals, the department reported that the hospital occupancy rate was at 101 per cent. At the start of the latest lockdown, it was 83 per cent.

When the lockdown started close to three weeks ago there were 211 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals in the North, with 26 in intensive care units and 20 on ventilators.

In the meantime, those hospital figures have more or less doubled. Currently there are 418 patients receiving Covid treatment in the North’s hospitals, with 50 of them being treated in intensive care units and 42 of them on ventilators.

Seven-day figure

On October 16th, the overall seven-day figure for Northern Ireland was 357 cases per 100,000 of population. This has come down to 239 cases per 100,000.

When the lockdown came in the highest rate was in Derry and Strabane, with 892 cases per 100,000. It is now 300 per 100,000 in that council area.

The rate was 488 cases per 100,000 in Belfast and Mid Ulster. It is now 353 cases per 100,000 in Mid Ulster and 266 cases in Belfast.

On Tuesday, Dr Tom Black, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) in the North, warned that ending the lockdown on Friday week would be an “act of careless vandalism”.

The Northern Executive, which is meeting on Thursday, is expected to consider the issue of whether the lockdown will end on the scheduled date of Friday, November 13th.

The Executive is not expected to make a firm decision on the matter on Thursday. The issue, however, could open up new differences between the two main parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin.

On Monday, DUP First Minister Arlene Foster said the current four-week period of restrictions will end on Friday week, while Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said they would be “reviewed”.

On Wednesday evening, the Sinn Féin junior Minister Declan Kearney said he believed the restrictions would continue to suppress the virus. He could not, however, say with confidence at the moment that there “is not more to do”.

DUP junior Minister Gordon Lyons said that when the restrictions were introduced, it was explicit that they would expire on Friday week.

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