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Covid-19: NI hits another record number of cases

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image captionThe Department of Health's death toll rose by three on Friday to a total of 608

Northern Ireland has had another record number of Covid-19 cases confirmed in the last 24 hours.

On Friday, the Department of Health reported the deaths of two more people who had tested positive for Covid-19.

This brings the department's overall death toll to 608.

Daily testing figures show that another 1,299 people have tested positive for the disease, meaning a total of 25,177 cases have now been confirmed.

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The number of people receiving hospital care after being diagnosed with Covid-19 has also risen to 213, which is up from 12 yesterday.

image captionDaily testing figures show that another 1,299 people have tested positive for the disease

Twenty-six people are now being treated in intensive care, with 20 of them on ventilators - an increase of three in 24 hours.

The number of care homes where the virus has been detected has risen too. The Public Health Agency is now dealing with 72 outbreaks, up from 64 yesterday.

Analysis by Louise Cullen, BBC News NI health reporter

This is the third Friday in a row that a record number of new cases has been reported.

And that's despite there having been some restrictions in place in that time.

But the problem is, it's not just today's numbers, it's what they translate to - and what we are seeing today is the outworking of the numbers we were reporting a fortnight ago.

On 2 October, when we reported 934 new cases, there were 65 hospital inpatients. Today, more than three times that number are being treated in hospital for Covid-19.

And the number of seriously ill people needing intensive care support or even ventilation has just about tripled as well, from nine to 26.

If we continue on that trajectory, we could surpass the number of inpatients we had at the peak of the first wave (322) in as little as a week.

In the past seven days, 21 more families are grieving the loss of someone who died after contracting the virus.

That is what the next four weeks is about - protecting the health service and potentially preventing deaths, by getting on top of the numbers and stopping the spread.

There is a rolling programme of testing in the care home sector, with staff being tested on a fortnightly basis and residents once a month.

In the Republic of Ireland there have been three additional Covid-related deaths, bringing the total there to 1,841.

There were also a further 1,000 cases of the virus confirmed there today.

image captionThe largest increase in cases in the past seven days has occurred in the Belfast council area

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