Death toll now at 2,159
The Health Minister Robin Swann said a sharp rise in Covid cases is “a cause for concern” after more than 1,000 people tested positive for the first time since January.
Thursday’s report shows 1,083 new cases. It has not been over 1,000 since January 13.
No new deaths have been reported.
In the past seven days there have been three deaths reported, up from zero the previous week.
The death toll remains at 2,159.
Mr Swann said: “We have seen the numbers climb in recent weeks but today’s spike in cases is cause for concern. This is the first time since January that we’re reporting a daily change of over 1,000 positive cases, and while we are in a more fortunate position with a large proportion of the population now vaccinated we must remain cautious.
“We need everyone to play their part in helping to stop the spread of the virus. Our advice remains the same – stick to guidelines and regulations, all adults aged 18 and over should get vaccinated, and ensure you and your close contacts self-isolate if you test positive.”
With an increase in cases among the younger age group he made a particular appeal to take up vaccinations, urging people not to risk being left with debilitating long-term health issues.
“We all want to enjoy the summer but we must continue to do it safely.”
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “Vaccination is key to preventing serious illness and with such high infection levels circulating in the community it is vital that all those eligible for vaccination come forward for their jab. Our vaccination programme has been very successful and there is no doubt that many people are alive in Northern Ireland today because they have been vaccinated.
“Our health system is at the point where it is struggling to cope with current levels of demand for care. We simply cannot continue to add more pressure. We must work together to drive down infection levels. This means we must all continue to follow the behaviours that we are all accustomed to, and that we know limit the spread of the virus.”
Today in Northern Ireland there have been 1.1million people tested with 135,227 found to have had the virus.
In the past seven days 4,437 people have tested positive, up from 3,291 in the past week.
There are 80 people in hospital with coronavirus, up from 52 the previous week. Two are in intensive care.
Hospital occupancy is at 104%. Ten hospitals are over capacity, although the vast majority of patients do not have Covid-19. There were eight people admitted to hospital on Wednesday with the virus.
There are 19 active outbreaks at care homes. That is up from 10 in the previous week.
Meanwhile First Minister Paul Givan received his second dose of the vaccine.
Speaking at the SSE Arena he said quarantine rules for those fully vaccinated should be relaxed earlier than the Executive’s July 26 date.
He said he had engaged with the health minister in terms of the date being out of sync with the rest of the UK.
"I want Northern Ireland to move to the July 19 as well,” he said.
Vaccination efforts continue with 1.18m having had a first dose and 957k being fully vaccinated according to latest figures.
Meanwhile, the Southern and Western Health Trusts have teamed up with the GAA to offer pop-up vaccination clinics at games this weekend.
One will be available at the Armagh game against Monaghan at Pairc Esler from 1.15pm to 3.15pm on Saturday.
Another will take place at Ulster GAA’s Football Senior Championship match on Sunday between Tyrone and Donegal at Brewster Park, Enniskillen.
The pop-up clinic will be open between 12-5pm at St Michael’s Scout Hall, adjacent o the main entrance to Brewster Park.
Open to all Northern Ireland residents over 18, it will administer first jabs of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on a first come, first serve basis.
Anyone attending must bring along photographic ID, proof of address and their Health and Care number if possible.
It should be noted there is no walk-in facility for those receiving second doses.
Supporting the operation of the clinic at the match on Sunday, Tyrone Co-Manager Feargal Logan said: “As joint Manager of Tyrone I would encourage Tyrone fans to make use of the pop-up Covid Vaccine clinic at this weekend’s match. I have had my vaccine to help protect my friends and family. Remember every vaccination brings us closer to doing the things that we love.”
Western Trust Head of Health Improvement, Seamus Ward, said: “We have been delighted with the response from the public to our mobile walk in clinics so far. It shows us that there is still a great appetite within our community for the vaccine and it is great to see so many young people in the 18-39 age bracket taking this opportunity to get their first dose.”
“We want to build on that momentum and that is why the Trust is organising clinics across the Western Trust area, as we feel it is important to provide access to people at times and places that are convenient to them, like the match between Tyrone and Donegal on Sunday.”
“We hope that by providing pop up clinics at events like this, we can ensure more of our population have access to the vaccine to help us in the fight against Covid-19.”