Covid-19: NI records 1,662 cases and six more virus-linked deaths

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Northern Ireland has recorded a further 1,662 Covid-19 cases and six more virus-related deaths.

The latest figures from the Department of Health bring the total number of deaths to 1,354, while 78,072 people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.

More than 11,000 cases have been reported in the past seven days, more than double the week before.

In the Republic of Ireland, seven more Covid-19 related deaths were recorded.

It brings the Republic's death toll to 2,259.

The Irish Department of Health also confirmed 4,962 more Covid-19 cases.

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Image caption,
Northern Ireland is currently under tighter restrictions due to rising Covid-19 cases

Northern Ireland is in the second week of a six-week lockdown.

The six-week lockdown, which began on Boxing Day, is due to be reviewed after four weeks.

Stricter measures, including a "stay-at-home curfew", ended on Saturday.

As of midnight, there were 507 inpatients in Northern Ireland who had tested positive for coronavirus, and 36 Covid-19 patients in ICU.

On Saturday, a further 26 virus-linked deaths and 3,500 cases were announced, covering the previous 48 hours.

The figures come after Northern Ireland recorded its highest ever daily number of coronavirus cases last Wednesday.

'Important to get back to school'

Meanwhile, with Northern Ireland and the UK continuing to grapple with Covid-19, First Minister Arlene Foster has said Stormont ministers would "do all that we can" to keep young people in schools in January.

Education Minister Peter Weir announced last week that most pupils would not return to school in the first week of the month as planned, and instead return after a week of remote learning.

For some post-primary pupils (Years 8-11), online learning will be in place for the entire month of January.

Mrs Foster told BBC's The Andrew Marr Show young people "have missed out far too much on education during Covid".

"However, we do recognise with this new mutant version of Covid-19 that there are difficuties, that it transmits among younger people, therefore we have to take that into consideration," she said.

"It is important we get our young people into schools again but we have to have remote learning for a short period of time - and I hope it is a short period of time."