| 15.9°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey confirms £15.5m charities fund will be launched 'very shortly'

  • Death toll in NI rises to 494 as five more people confirmed to have died after contracting Covid-19
  • Republic of Ireland death toll increases to 1,571 after 11 further deaths
  • UK-wide coronavirus-related deaths now stand at 35,704

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said a £15.5m support fund for struggling charities will be launched "very shortly".

Speaking at the Executive's daily Covid-19 briefing, Ms Hargey said each charity will be able to apply for support with a limit of £75,000.

"At a time where budgets are stretched and so many in our community are feeling the pain of the unprecedented situation it is important that we maintain services for those most in need and those struggling low income families," she said.

The minister said her department will have delivered 100,000 food parcels to those in need by the end of this week.

Ms Hargey also recognised the financial pressures facing councils across Northern Ireland and said the Executive is providing £20.3m in support to local authorities to keep them afloat.

She also said she is in discussions with the Treasury regarding the possibility on conferring more powers to councils to raise funds.

Her comments come after it was confirmed a further five people have died after contracting coronavirus in Northern Ireland.

Four people died in the last 24 hours, with one person passing away outside this time period but only being reported for the first time. This brings the total death toll here to 494.

A further 18 people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of infections in Northern Ireland to 4,421.

There are currently 18 people in an ICU Covid-19 bed and there are 70 active Covid-19 care home outbreaks.

Check out our live blog below to see how Wednesday's coronavirus development's unfolded.

Belfast Telegraph