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Coronavirus: Chancellor's lift for Northern Ireland as he gives a further £200m in aid to Stormont

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Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

Northern Ireland is to receive an additional £200m to help fight coronavirus, it has been revealed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The additional funding, which will boost the Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund, means the Treasury has now committed a total £340m to support the effort in Northern Ireland.

People in Northern Ireland also benefit from a range of UK-wide measures including £330bn worth of UK Government backed loans, the Job Retention Scheme and the UK-wide PPE strategy announced last week.

The funding will help the devolved administration at Stormont meet its urgent priorities across public services in Northern Ireland as it works closely with the UK Government to tackle the pandemic.

Welcoming the additional funding, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis MP, said it reflects the Government's promise to do everything in its power to help the country defeat coronavirus.

"This additional funding for the Northern Ireland Executive delivers on that promise by bolstering support for our fantastic public services and their staff - making sure they have the resources they need to meet the exceptional challenges presented by this outbreak," he said.

"We are united in our commitment to tackling coronavirus and working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive as part of our UK-wide effort to fund urgent health priorities at this very challenging time."

Making the announcement, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, paid tribute to staff who would benefit from the additional funds.

"Our public services and its incredible staff are bravely working with immense resolve and skill to keep us safe. We depend on them, which is why we're giving them the extra funds, tools and resources they need to tackle the virus," he said.

"From the start, I've been clear our vital public services will get whatever they need to protect this country and its people from coronavirus. We are delivering on our pledge."

At the Budget on March 11, the Chancellor initially set aside a £5bn fund as a rapid response, and said that whatever extra resources needed by the NHS and public services would be provided.

News of the extra funding comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued his recovery from Covid-19 at Chequers in Buckinghamshire after doctors ordered him to rest.

The latest analysis from Johns Hopkins University in the US suggested the UK's case fatality rate, the number of deaths per 100 confirmed cases, was 12.5%, behind only Italy's rate of 12.7%.

The Ministry of Defence said nearly 200 members of the armed forces are now being loaned to five NHS ambulance trusts in England to support their work during the pandemic.

But the Fire Brigade's Union warned that nearly 3,000 fire and rescue staff are in self-isolation and unable to work.

The Government also continued to face pressure over shortages of personal protective equipment for frontline NHS staff, as a growing number of health workers died.

The Royal College of Nurses issued new guidance that nurses who could not get adequate PPE should, as a "last resort", refuse to work.

Speaking on Monday, Dominic Raab, still standing in for the Prime Minister, said: "We understand the importance of getting PPE to the front line whether it's in care homes or the NHS.

"I think the strongest practical reassurance they will want and that we can give them is that over the Bank Holiday weekend over 16 million items were delivered and we are straining every sinew to roll them out even further and even faster."

Further afield, Spain, which on Sunday reported its lowest daily growth in infections for three weeks, allowed workers to return to factories and construction sites.

Belfast Telegraph