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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: No further deaths as cases in last week reach over 200

  • Death toll remains at 557, with 204 new cases confirmed in the past seven days
  • 'Complacency is setting in', warns Health Minister Robin Swann
  • 'No change' to how grades will be awarded, says exams body CCEA
  • Scroll down to read today's live blog

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Royal Avenue in Belfast City Centre. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Royal Avenue in Belfast City Centre. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Exams this year were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic (David Jones/PA)

Exams this year were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic (David Jones/PA)

Royal Avenue in Belfast City Centre. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

There have been no further coronavirus deaths in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours, however another 29 cases of the virus have been diagnosed.

The death toll in the region remains at 557, while there have now been 204 cases confirmed in the past seven days. The number of cases identified since the outbreak began is 6,217.

Earlier on Wednesday, Health Minister Robin Swann said the number of people hospitalised due to Covid is one of the key factors his department is now looking at to gauge the spread of the virus.

"When we start to see an increase in hospitalisations, that's when alarm bells start to ring," he said.

Less than a week ago, this figure was four - today nine people are in hospital.

There are also two Covid patient in intensive care units.

It comes amid debate over of how A, AS-level and GCSE grades will be calculated this year, as all exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, grades will be determined via a combination of teacher predicted grades, school rankings for students in each subject and moderation by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) based on a range of evidence, including the previous performance of schools.

Education Minister Peter Weir has defended the fairness of the system on social media.

On Tuesday, the Scottish government performed a huge U-turn by abandoning the moderation system for grades used by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), instead opting to use results predicted by teachers alone.

In Northern Ireland, however, there are no signs of a last-minute change. Students will receive their A-level results on Thursday, with GCSE results being released next week.

CCEA said on Tuesday night it would still be awarding grades using "a combination of teacher professional judgement and statistical modelling".

"A key element of the process is to ensure that qualifications standards are maintained this year," they added.

"There has been no change in this direction or our approach."

Students here will, however, be able to use results from mock exams to appeal their grade if they think it should be higher.

Follow our live blog below for all the latest coronavirus developments:

Belfast Telegraph