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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Seven deaths and 1,355 new cases as Executive splits over restrictions

  • Death toll stands at 2,646
  • Concerns easing restrictions will spread virus
  • BMA brands changes ‘madness’

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Covid-19 vaccine

Covid-19 vaccine

REUTERS

Covid-19 vaccine

Seven new deaths linked to coronavirus have been announced by the Department of Health on Friday.

The latest coronavirus figures show the total deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic stands at 2,646.

It comes as divisions have emerged between Executive ministers over the latest change to the restrictions.

Friday’s figures also reveal a further 1,355 people have tested positive for Covid-19 out of 3,871 tested over the past 24 hours.

A total of 264,803 people have tested positive for the virus in Northern Ireland since the pandemic began.

Some 32 deaths have been recorded from the virus in Northern Ireland during the past seven days, an increase of three on the week before.

Over the past seven days 8,663 people have tested positive, a decrease from 8,998 the week before.

Hospital bed occupancy stands at 106%, and 10 facilities are over capacity.

There are 358 Covid-19 inpatients in Northern Ireland's hospitals – down from 386 inpatients seven days ago.

The figures show 33 people are currently in intensive care, a decrease of two from Thursday’s figure.

There were 200 Covid admissions in the past week, a decrease from 206 the previous week.

There are currently 54 active outbreaks in care homes – a reduction of 11 compared to the past week.

By noon on Friday, a total of 2,606,061 vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland including 1,319,509 first doses.

There were 2,843 total vaccinations administered within the last 24 hours.

The figures show 43,536 booster vaccinations have also been administered to date.

Meanwhile, disagreement among the Executive about the easing of restrictions in the coming week has reportedly emerged.

Restrictions in hospitality involving the removal of social distancing and the reopening of nightclubs are set to take place from October 31 after ministers officially signed off on the relaxations on Thursday.

However, in a letter seen by BBC NI, Justice Minister Naomi Long has expressed fears the removal of mask wearing in clubs may cause a rise in the transmission of the virus.

It follows criticism earlier from the British Medical Association’s Dr Tom Black that the plan from the Executive was “schizophrenic”.

Ms Long said she was concerned about a "lack of clarity" in the health advice underpinning the changes.

In the letter she said: “Given the extent of Covid transmission in the community, the risk posed by new variants and the high risk nature of nightclub settings, I fear that further relaxation in the wearing of face coverings, particularly when dancing, may lead to a significant increase in transmission.”

She said proof of full vaccination or testing should be a requirement in environments like nightclubs

It is understood Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon also shared the concerns.

Her party leader Colum Eastwood said: “The decision to open and reduce restrictions in nightclubs on Halloween night without introducing a mandatory vaccine certification programme is grossly irresponsible.

"The warnings from senior health service leaders about the pressures on our hospitals have been stark. Politicians cannot legitimately talk about the strain on front line services, and frontline staff, in one breath and in the next take decisions that we know will increase that pressure.”


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