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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: 14 further deaths and 1,566 new cases reported

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Coronavirus testing (Yui Mok/PA)

Coronavirus testing (Yui Mok/PA)

Coronavirus testing (Yui Mok/PA)

A further 14 people have died after contracting coronavirus in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has confirmed.

Thirteen deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, with one taking place outside of the reporting period.

The death toll, according to the Department of Health, is now 1,305.

Another 1,566 people have tested positive virus, bringing the total number of infections to 68,762 since the pandemic began.

There are 462 Covid patients in Northern Ireland hospitals, with 34 in intensive care. Twenty-four patients are ventilated.

Hospital occupancy is at 98% and there are 96 active outbreaks in care homes.

It comes after an expert warned that Northern Ireland is still "in a very dangerous place" after a surge in Covid cases.

The Department of Health reported that a further 20 deaths related to the virus occurred over the weekend, when there were an additional 1,634 positive cases.

Queen's University virologist Dr Connor Bamford said new measures may need to be taken if the six-week lockdown fails to bring infections down.

For example, he said a better test and trace system should be introduced.

"We either have to keep these restrictions in place or find new restrictions," he said.

He added with positive test figures remaining so high, that will put even more pressure on already struggling hospitals.

It comes after Health Minister Robin Swann urged the Northern Ireland public not to hold potential "super-spreader" New Year's Eve parties on Thursday, warning they could cost lives.

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Belfast Telegraph