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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Further surge in cases 'single biggest threat' to rebuilding warns Swann

  • Death toll remains at 2,107
  • No new deaths and 139 new cases reported

  • Scroll down for live updates

Health Minister Robin Swann has warned of the potential for a further surge in Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a media briefing this afternoon, Mr Swann said the vaccination programme offered the hope of "better times ahead" with "more freedoms and more normality".

"We cannot jeopardise that better future by being reckless now," he said.

"We have so much work to do, both in terms of combating the virus and repairing the great damage it has caused.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

"Rebuilding health services post-pandemic is a top priority of mine, particularly the need to address the backlog in operations and other treatments.

"The potential for a further surge in Covid-19 cases, however, represents the single biggest threat to that crucial rebuilding.

"That's a major reason why we need to be cautious now.

"As I have stressed before, the best way to protect non-Covid care is to stop the virus spreading."

Mr Swann said the public must remain cautious and vigilant as he urged people to spend the Easter period "sensibly and respectfully".

"The virus is still out there, looking for ways to spread," he said.

"Remember that indoor mixing is still out of bounds, for very good reason," he said.

"While limited outdoor interactions are permitted, social distancing and common sense remain vital."

Mr Swann was speaking after no new deaths were reported from Covid-19 in Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

The latest figures from the Department of Health are within the past 24 hours.

Northern Ireland's death toll from the virus remains at 2,107.

Covid-19 Health Update with Health Minister, Robin Swann

Health Minister, Robin Swann, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride and Patricia Donnelly, Head of the Covid-19 Vaccine Programme will address the media

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Over the past seven days there have been seven deaths from the virus, down from eight the week before.

The department also confirmed 139 new cases of Covid-19 after 1,856 tests were carried out.

A total of 116,332 people have now tested positive for the virus in Northern Ireland.

Over the past seven days 1,014 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19, down from 1,197 the week before.

There are currently 154 Covid-19 patients in Northern Ireland's hospitals, with 14 in an intensive care unit.

Hospital bed occupancy currently stands at 101%, while 25 intensive care unit beds remain free.

In Northern Ireland's care homes there are currently nine active outbreaks of the virus.

Meanwhile chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride has announced the easing of safety advice to those considered clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) in Northern Ireland.

Since December 26 2020, CEV people have been advised to adhere to additional steps to protect themselves from Covid-19, including advice not to attend a workplace if they are unable to work from home.

Dr McBride said there would be a graduated easing of the advice from April 12, with the first step in relation to the workplace.

He said if people could not work from home they could go back to the workplace, as long as appropriate safety measures were in place.

"From the outset, protecting the most vulnerable people from Covid-19 has been a key priority," he said.

"If the current good progress in relation to the virus is maintained, I am pleased to recommend that CEV people will be able to attend work after April 12, provided the proper measures have been taken regarding the biosecurity of the workplace.

"This is an important step to helping CEV people re-engage with everyday life with confidence."

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