Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Concern over 'increasing number' of cases in NI

Robin Swann Image copyright Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Image caption Health Minister Robin Swann has urged people to follow the guidance and be vigilant

Health Minister Robin Swann has expressed concern at the "increasing number" of Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland.

Forty-eight new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours and 194 people tested positive in the last seven days.

Mr Swann said there was now an average of 27 cases per day, compared with three a "few short weeks ago".

He also expressed concern that nine people with the virus have been admitted to hospital.

"Two of them are currently in ICU," he said.

Image copyright Reuters

"This highlights the continuing threat from Covid-19 and we must all do everything within our power to tackle this."

The majority of the 48 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 recorded in the last 24 hours were in Antrim and Newtownabbey, where 14 more people were diagnosed.

In total, 557 people have died of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland and there have been 6,188 confirmed cases.

Mr Swann said contact tracing remained key to tackling the virus.

He also urged people to use the new Stop COVID NI app which, he said was "fundamental in this fight".

"I am heartened that there have been over 230,000 downloads. However I am urging everyone to share the app with friends and family who have not yet got it," he said.

"The more people that have it, the more effective it will be."

The health minister stressed that it was vital for people to continue washing their hands, wearing face coverings and keeping their distance.

As of Monday 10 August, wearing a face covering became mandatory in shops and other enclosed spaces in Northern Ireland.

That rule was already in place for users of public transport.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Belfast Royal Academy announced its plans in an email to parents

As schools prepare to reopen, Belfast Royal Academy (BRA) has announced that it plans to make wearing face coverings mandatory for both pupils and staff.

Education Minister Peter Weir said the executive was not recommending masks for pupils.

However, Northern Ireland's Chief Scientific Adviser Prof Ian Young later said he believed it would be of benefit for older children.

In the Republic of Ireland, authorities reported one new death on Tuesday, bringing the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 1,773.

There are also 35 new confirmed cases, 24 of which have been confirmed to be associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case and five of which have been identified as community transmission.

RTÉ has reported that a series of economic measures are expected to be announced later this week to help counties Laois, Offaly and Kildare.

They have been subjected to more severe restrictions since last Friday, after a spike in Covid-19 cases in the region.

It is understood that the Irish government is to begin work on a "medium-term plan" to take the country through the next six or nine months of living with the virus

Weekly testing for Covid-19 will be rolled out at all meat plants and direct provision centres across the country.

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