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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Eight further deaths and 493 new cases reported

  • Death toll rises to 724

  • Not pubs v schools in Covid battle, says Education Minister Weir

  • Foster confirms 'circuit-breaker' restrictions to end on November 13

  • Scroll down to read Monday's blog

A further eight people in Northern Ireland have died after testing positive for coronavirus, the Department of Health has confirmed.

Seven of the deaths occurred within the last 24 hours, with one death being reported outside of the reporting period.

Two deaths occurred in Belfast, Londonderry and Mid Ulster, while one death occurred in Antrim.

The location of one death was listed as not known.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

The death toll has now risen to 724.

A further 493 people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 39,609.

There are 379 people with Covid-19 in hospital, with 52 patients in intensive care. Forty-two patients are ventilated.

The occupancy rate in Northern Ireland hospitals is 94%.

There are 120 active outbreaks of the virus in care homes.

It comes after Education Minister Peter Weir said it is not a case of playing various sectors off against each other in terms of coronavirus restrictions.

He was speaking at Glenlola Collegiate School on Monday, November 2, as children returned to the classroom following the extended Halloween break.

"I don't think it should be put as a tension or a battle between the two," Mr Weir said when asked on Chief Medical Officer's Michael McBride's comments that "it would not be possible to keep the R rate below one" with schools and the hospitality sector both open.

"As an Executive we are looking at a way that once the lockdown is completed we find a way to live with the virus. And that will include a range of interventions. It means actions that may be more focused ... it is about providing very precise interventions and hopefully then we can keep the R number down, rather than a trade off between major sectors.

"We have got to get away from a crude notion of you either shut down one thing or shut down another."

Earlier Arlene Foster said the Stormont Executive is focused on a strategy to live with the coronavirus and confirmed the current 'circuit-breaker' restrictions will lift on November 13.

Over the weekend deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said they would be reviewed on that date, appearing at odds with Mrs Foster.

"We cannot be in a position to turn the economy on and off," First Minister Foster told BBC's Good Morning Ulster.

Asked about Chief Medical Officer's Michael McBride's comments, Mrs Foster said they were working with various sectors to improve on Covid measures.

"What he [Dr McBride] actually said is you cannot have a situation as we were pre-Covid where everything is open as if there are no difficulties with Covid-19. Of course there are difficulties."

The DUP leader welcomed the reopening of schools on Monday and urged the public to follow the advice and support school staff in order to allow for them to safely operate and allow them to stay open.

She said the leaders of the four UK nations will hold further discussions on coronavirus restrictions including on the extension of the furlough scheme.

Hospitality Ulster has called for the furlough scheme to be extended until the end of the financial year. It comes after it was confirmed the scheme would continue until December.

Check out our blog below to see how Monday's development's unfolded:

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