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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland records highest daily number of deaths as Swann warns 'not time to ease up'

  • Department of Health death toll rises to 1,559
  • Cases since outbreak now 93,834
  • CMOs in cross-border stay home at home appeal
  • Large retailers selling non-essentials told to 'step up'
  • Nisra records over 2,000 virus-linked deaths
  • Scroll down to see how Friday unfolded

Northern Ireland has reached another dark milestone on the coronavirus pandemic with the announcement that another 26 people have died.

Its the highest daily number of deaths reported by the Department of Health since the virus took hold across the region. Previously the highest was 22 for the number of deaths in one day. The deaths do not always take place in the 24 hour period the department is reporting on.

The Northern Ireland death toll is 1,559, according to the Department of Health.

Another 1,052 new cases of the virus have also been reported bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak to 93,834. Some 7,590 people have tested positive in the last seven days.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

Of the 26 fatalities, 21 happened within the current reporting period, from 10am on Thursday to 10am on Friday, while the remaining five deaths occurred previously.

There are currently 840 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with 63 in intensive care and 47 requiring ventilation. Hospitals are operating at 97% capacity.

A total of 139 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Health Minister Robin Swann said his "heart sank" when he heard the news about the record number of deaths.

"A further 26 families added to those who have already been bereaved by Covid. Once again, I would like to extend my sympathies to all the families that have been devastated throughout the course of the pandemic," Mr Swann said.

“While there has been some reduction in cases, now is not the time to ease up in our fightback against the virus.

“Our health service is facing unparalleled pressures and those who work for it are already exhausted and traumatised.

“The pressures will continue throughout this month and beyond."

It comes after the Chief Medical Officers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland voiced their concerns over spread of coronavirus, urging everyone to stay home.

In a joint statement, Dr Michael McBride and Dr Tony Holohan said they were "gravely concerned about the unsustainably high level of Covid-19 infection" on the island of Ireland.

"This is having a significant impact on the health of our population and the safe functioning of our healthcare systems," the medics said.

Here's how Friday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph