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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: One further death confirmed as Arlene Foster warns contact tracing could go on for two years

  • NI death toll reaches 523 after one further fatality
  • UK-wide death toll now at 38,489
  • Republic of Ireland death toll stands at 1,652

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Crawfordsburn Beach - 31st May 2020. Photograph by Declan Roughan

Crawfordsburn Beach - 31st May 2020. Photograph by Declan Roughan

Crawfordsburn Beach - 31st May 2020. Photograph by Declan Roughan

One further person in Northern Ireland has died after testing positive for coronavirus, the Department of Health has confirmed.

This brings the death toll in the region to 523.

The fatality happened and was reported within the current reporting period, from 10am on May 30 to 10am on May 31.

A further 1,238 Covid-19 lab tests on 924 people have been carried out in the last 24 hours, resulting in seven positive cases.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases of the virus to 4,716.

There are currently 71 active Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes across Northern Ireland, while 55 outbreaks have been resolved.

It comes as First Minister Arlene Foster warned that contact tracing in Northern Ireland could go on for up to two years in order to ensure Covid-19 is completely eradicated.

Contact tracing for the virus began in the region two weeks ago and Mrs Foster, speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, said around 30 coronavirus cases are now being traced each day.

She said each case represents around 10 people who need to be traced, however whenever we exit lockdown this could increase to 30.

"We believe we are going to have to be involved in this contact tracing for quite some time, possibly even up to two years to make sure we know where the virus is in our community, but it is something that is very much the cornerstone of coming out of lockdown and being able to relax those restrictions, which we understand are very draconian," she said.

Mrs Foster also rejected suggestions the authorities in Northern Ireland did not understand how vulnerable care homes were at the beginning of the outbreak.

"We put in a lot of interventions, but I think if you have a low number of deaths in the first place then, understandably, you are going to have a concentration (of deaths) where there are older and vulnerable people," she said.

"We have been looking very carefully at how we could do more for our care home residents. In our testing strategy, they are very much at the top and we are ensuring that we test and retest residents and indeed staff on an ongoing basis."

Check out blog below to see how Sunday's developments unfolded.

Belfast Telegraph