Family and friends of Niall Murphy are cautiously optimistic as the solicitor shows signs of good progress in his battle against the Covid-19 virus.
Mr Murphy, who was placed in a medically induced coma after being admitted to hospital last week, has acknowledged commands and shown awareness after being told of many people asking after him, friends said.
The 43-year-old solicitor, activist and leading Antrim GAA figure remains on a ventilator but needs less induced oxygen and shows improvement.
Medical staff have told family and friends that he appears to be more aware, is able to obey commands and has responded when told of the support he is receiving from his close and wider circles.
Doctors are talking about removing his breathing tube but remain extremely cautious. Overall, there is improvement, according to friends.
Mr Murphy, a father-of-three, complained of feeling ill after returning from the US earlier this month.
He was not tested for Covid-19 as it is understood his temperature was not high enough to cross the threshold.
The solicitor, a partner in the KRW Law firm headed by Kevin Winters, has been involved in a number high-profile cases, including representing the families of those who died in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre.
Emma Rogan, who has known Mr Murphy for nearly 20 years as he has represented her family and others in their quest for answers relating to the Loughinisland murders, said she was devastated to hear of his illness
"Everybody is just praying for him. People here in Loughinisland all recognise and know of him even if they do not know him personally. They know him as the guy leading from the front," the South Down MLA said.