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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: 12 further deaths and 296 new cases as CMO urges confidence in vaccine

Department of Health death toll rises to 1,943


Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride

The Department of Health has reported a further 12 deaths and another 296 cases.

Nine of those deaths happened in the 24 hours up to 10am on Monday, and three occurred previously. It brings the death toll to 1,943.

It comes as the Chief Medical Officer has said the public should have a "high level" of confidence in Covid-19 vaccines, after a study suggested one may not be as effective against mutated strains of the virus.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

To date 107,163 people in Northern Ireland have now tested positive for the virus, including 2,921 positive tests in the last seven days.

There are currently 598 confirmed Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland with 60 in intensive care while 94 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Dr McBride has said anyone eligible for the vaccine should not hesitate to get protected.

“The Astra Zeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are protecting people from Covid-19 - and saving lives.

“They have been independently and expertly assessed as effective against the strains of the virus that are dominant in Northern Ireland and elsewhere on these islands. They have been approved for the entire adult population."

He added: “I’m aware of a small scale study that suggests that Astra Zeneca may not be as effective against mild disease from the South Africa variant of the virus.

“Clearly, more studies will be required on the full efficacy of vaccines against all variants. But I wish to assure people here on two important fronts.

“Firstly, the South Africa variant is not dominant in the UK – indeed there have been no confirmed cases of it at all in Northern Ireland at this time.

“Secondly, while protection against mild disease is obviously desirable, the most important objective is protection against serious illness, hospitalisation and death. Any vaccine that achieves that is a successful vaccine."

Dr McBride agreed it was important to take the emergence of new threats seriously, and called on the public to continue "maximum vigilance" to prevent any further spread.

“The roll out of the Astra Zeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines is hugely important. It gives real hope that we will get through this pandemic.

“But this is not the time to ease up or imagine that all restrictions will very shortly be a thing of the past.

“We protect ourselves against all variants of Covid-19 in the same way – that includes staying at home, working from home if at all possible, keeping our distance from others when we have to go out, washing our hands and wearing a face covering. It also includes avoiding busy confined spaces where ventilation is limited."

Belfast Telegraph