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Coronavirus: Concerns mounting over virus resurgence with more cases confirmed in Northern Ireland

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Image of the coronavirus. (Photo by HANDOUT/National Institutes of Health/AFP via Getty Images)

Image of the coronavirus. (Photo by HANDOUT/National Institutes of Health/AFP via Getty Images)

National Institutes of Health/AF

Image of the coronavirus. (Photo by HANDOUT/National Institutes of Health/AFP via Getty Images)

Ten new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Northern Ireland yesterday, with a further 38 in the Republic, amid mounting concerns around a resurgence of the virus.

A planned easing of England's lockdown was postponed - a day before it was due to come into effect, as the Prime Minister warned the country "cannot be complacent" amid a rise in the prevalence of coronavirus in the community.

The new cases in Northern Ireland bring the total number here to 5,948.

No further Covid-19 related deaths were recorded by the Department of Health in the past 24 hours, which means its death toll remains at 556.

Separate figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, which include deaths outside hospital, put the toll at 854 as of July 24.

The latest figures were released as the shielding period for around 90,000 vulnerable people in Northern Ireland came to an end.

Those with serious medical conditions are able to venture outside from yesterday for the first time since March as coronavirus restrictions ease.

Meanwhile, another 38 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Republic, the National Public Health Emergency Team said last night, bringing the total to 26,065.

No new deaths were notified as of midnight on Thursday, leaving the country's total at 1,763.

Some 32 cases are located in Dublin or Kildare and 26 are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of confirmed cases.

Over the past two days a total of 123 cases have been reported. Of these, 84 are linked to known outbreaks or are close contacts of other confirmed cases.

At least 19 cases have been identified as community transmission while 20 cases remain under investigation.

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer in Ireland, said mass testing has now taken place in relation to a number of known outbreaks.

"We may be beginning to see more cases which we cannot link to outbreaks or close contacts," he said.

"The National Public Health Emergency Team will continue to monitor this situation closely over the coming days.

"The importance of isolating as soon as you have any flu-like symptoms cannot be overstated. Without this individual action we simply will not break the chains of transmission and we will put many people at risk of infection.

"It is important that people know that there is no charge for GP or testing services relating to Covid-19. Please do not hesitate to contact your GP if you have any concerns."

He added: "This weekend, the six key things people need to do are limit the size of your network and time you spend with them, keep your distance, meet up outside if possible, wash your hands, wear a face covering and download the Covid tracker app."

Yesterday Taoiseach Micheal Martin said any spike in coronavirus cases is concerning.

He said the Irish Government will "watch and monitor very carefully" what happens with the number of Covid-19 cases in the coming days.

In England, Boris Johnson warned against complacency as the further easing of lockdown restrictions in England - due to come in this weekend - was postponed for at least two weeks.

Measures due to be lifted today, including allowing small wedding receptions, reopening bowling alleys and casinos and pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues, have been delayed for at least two weeks.

And in a strengthening of precautions, Mr Johnson announced that face coverings will become mandatory in indoor settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship from August 8.

In a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister revealed what he described as a "pretty punchy" new slogan - "Hands, face, space" - for people to be mindful of in their efforts to control the spread of Covid-19.

Standing alongside Mr Johnson, England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warned that it might not be possible to ease lockdown further, saying the UK has "probably reached near the limit or the limits" of what can be done to reopen society.

The news came after local lockdown measures were announced in parts of the North West of England and areas of West Yorkshire, banning people from different households meeting indoors or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.

Mr Johnson told the briefing: "As we see these rises around the world, we can't fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble."

"We cannot be complacent and I won't stand by and allow this virus to threaten more pain and heartache in our country."

Belfast Telegraph