Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Coroner calls for increased testing

There have been six deaths since Tuesday of people with coronavirus in Northern Ireland
Image caption There have been six deaths since Tuesday of people with coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Increased testing is needed to provide clarity and better understanding of how coronavirus is affecting life in Northern Ireland, the coroner has said.

Joe McCrisken said considering the scale of the pandemic, Northern Ireland is coping well under extremely difficult circumstances.

It comes as six more people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland died in hospital.

That brings the number of hospital deaths to 140.

Since Tuesday, there have been 121 new confirmed cases - the total number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland is 2,088, with 13,672 individuals tested.

Change to recorded figures

Due to the fact care home deaths occur outside hospital settings, they have not been included in Northern Ireland's daily coronavirus-related death toll.

It means places such as care homes have not been reflected in the statistics.

However, from this Friday, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency will be reporting care home deaths of people with Covid-19.

Increased testing

Speaking ahead of the release of Wednesday's figures, Mr McCrisken said 15 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported to his office.

He said he will want to learn from this pandemic in order to advise how countries can be better prepared for the future.

Lifting of restrictions

Meanwhile, a medical expert has said a phased lifting of lockdown restrictions on the island of Ireland is possible in the near future, but only when better detection measures around Covid-19 are introduced.

Prof Sam McConkey, head of the Royal College of Surgeons’ in Ireland's department of international health and tropical medicine, said a step-by-step approach is required, with primary schools opening first and sports such as golf.

He said mobile phone data, including GPS and Bluetooth information, should be used to help map the recent movements of those who have been diagnosed with the virus.

“That testing and contact-tracing should be in place first before we start to release restrictions,” said Prof McConkey.

He also insisted there needs to be close cross-border co-operation.

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