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Applause and cheers as Northern Ireland public salutes our health staff

  • 36 people have died in Northern Ireland to date, with 774 confirmed cases
  • Diane Dodds outlines 'massive shock' to NI economy as 17,000 jobs are furloughed to date
  • Healthcare staff testing and PPE an "absolute priority", says Robin Swann
  • Thousands take part in 'Clap for Carers' applauding health workers
  • Scroll down for live coverage of the latest news in the battle against coronavirus

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Parliament Buildings, Stormont in Belfast is lit up in blue in support for key workers and the NHS across the country as the second Clap For Our Carers takes place. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Parliament Buildings, Stormont in Belfast is lit up in blue in support for key workers and the NHS across the country as the second Clap For Our Carers takes place. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Parliament Buildings, Stormont in Belfast is lit up in blue in support for key workers and the NHS across the country as the second Clap For Our Carers takes place. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Scores of people young and old across Northern Ireland took to their doorsteps on Thursday evening to pay tribute to our health staff amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It is the second week in a row families across the UK have taken part in the 'Clap for Carers' initiative to show their gratitude to all those working in the health and social care system.

On Thursday afternoon health authorities confirmed there had been six more deaths from Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, bringing the death toll to 36 with another 774 people testing positive for the disease out of almost 7,000 tests carried out.

It comes as Economy Minister Diane Dodds outlined the "massive shock" to the Northern Ireland economy as a result of the outbreak.

Speaking at the daily Executive press conference, Mrs Dodds said 10,000 small businesses have received financial assistance through the £10k grant scheme and a further 3,200 are being processed.

She said 17,000 jobs have been furloughed, but greater clarity was needed from the Treasury and HMRC regarding eligibility.

Mrs Dodds said further announcements on the £25k scheme will be made next week.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy said £140m has been supplied to the Health Department for coronavirus measures, including for protective equipment.

"We are sourcing from the market both nationally and internationally, including China," he said.

"PPE and testing must be ramped up without delay."

He said £920m of Covid-19 support has been provided by Westminster and further allocations are expected to made by the Treasury in the coming days.

Health Minister Robin Swann said earlier that the Stormont Executive is "pushing on extensively" to increase testing for Covid-19.

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

Belfast Telegraph