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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Swann highlights 'dangerous' transmission rate and hospital admissions rise

  • DoH death toll rises to 836 after 11 people die, while Nisra figures now put Covid death toll at 1,141
  • Robin Swann: "Huge work required to repair the damage that has been caused"
  • Belfast International Airport to partially close throughout November
  • Scroll down to read Friday's live blog

Health Minister Robin Swann has said the Northern Ireland public deserves better than the leadership shown by the Executive this week amid worries about an increase in cases and hospital admissions.

Mr Swann highlighted the "dangerous" rise in the Rt rate, which tracks how fast the virus is growing, and the persistent increase in hospital admission figures which has caused "concern" looking ahead to the weeks and months ahead.

In a statement to the Assembly on Friday evening, Mr Swann said: "Whilst R has been brought down, it is now heading in the wrong direction and creeping up once again."

Political wrangling this week has caused "untold damage" to public confidence and understanding of current restrictions, he said.

"Moving forward there is very limited headroom without quickly reaching the point where the hospital system, which is already now operating at over capacity, struggles to cope.

"So as the Executive is already well aware, if I have to recommend further interventions to prevent vital services being overwhelmed, I will not hesitate to do so," he said.

The Executive on Thursday decided that restrictions would be extended in the hospitality and close contact service sectors.

A further 11 people in Northern Ireland have died after testing positive for Covid-19 and 607 new cases of the virus have been reported on Friday.

It brings the death toll to 836 and the number of cases confirmed since the outbreak to 45,848. Some 3,880 people have tested positive in the last seven days.

Eight of the fatalities happened within the current reporting period, from 10am on Thursday to 10am on Friday, while the three remaining deaths happened previously.

There are currently 443 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with 44 in intensive care and 34 requiring ventilation. Hospitals are operating at a 101% capacity.

A total of 147 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

On Friday, Belfast International Airport announced a partial closure throughout November in response to recent travel restrictions and the reduction of routes by airlines.

This will mean that the airport will close for several hours on particular days when there are no commercial flights scheduled.

Belfast International Airport's managing director, Graham Keddie, said they have had to make some "very tough decisions" due to the "devastating" impact of the pandemic.

“The recent travel restrictions and subsequent announcements from easyJet and Ryanair, among others, to understandably reduce their routes means we need to make more difficult decisions," he added.

"As a result we will be closing the airport for a few hours on certain days throughout November when there are no commercial flights meaning passengers will not be impacted."

Here's how Friday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph