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15 further deaths in Northern Ireland as row erupts over Army assistance

  • Death toll in Northern Ireland reaches 107 after largest single-day increase, while 128 new positive tests bring total number of confirmed cases to 1,717
  • UK-wide, 917 have died in the past 24 hours, bringing death toll to 9,875
  • Executive row erupts after Robin Swann requests the Army's assistance
  • Public urged to stay indoors and follow social distancing rules
  • Scroll down to follow our live coverage as it happened

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The British Army help move medical supplies at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA)

The British Army help move medical supplies at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA

Police officers set up a checkpoint on the Frosses Road heading towards Portrush as the coronavirus pandemic continues in Northern Ireland on April 10th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Police officers set up a checkpoint on the Frosses Road heading towards Portrush as the coronavirus pandemic continues in Northern Ireland on April 10th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The British Army help move medical supplies at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA)

A further 15 people have died in Northern Ireland after testing positive for coronavirus, it has been confirmed, as a row erupts over calling in Army assistance in dealing with the pandemic.

This is the highest number of deaths in a single day in the region since the outbreak began and brings the death toll to 107.

A further 128 positive cases have also been confirmed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland to 1,717.

Across the UK, 917 people have died after testing positive for the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of UK deaths to 9,875.

The news comes after Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill hit out Health Minister Robin Swann's "failure to consult ministerial colleagues" before seeking the Army's help in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Swann has made two formal requests to the Army; for help in distributing live-saving equipment and in planning a Nightingale hospital at the former Maze Prison site.

“I believe the Army’s skills and logistical expertise could assist with the redistribution of essential life-saving equipment across Northern Ireland to ensure that all hospitals have the materials and resources required to fully enact their surge plans," he told the BBC.

Michelle O'Neill, however, said the Executive should have been informed prior to any such request.

"The health minister has a responsibility to exhaust all options, including the use of other blue light public services and civilian contractors, to ensure that ventilators and life saving equipment are moved swiftly to where they are needed most," she said.

"Sinn Fein is seeking an urgent meeting with the health minister, on his failure to consult ministerial colleagues at yesterday’s Executive meeting."

Meanwhile, the PSNI has urged the public to stay indoors and follow social distancing rules over the Easter weekend.

Police have increased patrols and are manning checkpoints to ensure people are only travelling for necessary, essential purposes.

Check out our live blog below to see how Saturday's developments unfolded.

Belfast Telegraph