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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Swann warns Covid-19 is 'gaining momentum' and announces new hospital visit restrictions

  • 220 new cases confirmed in last 24 hours
  • No further deaths - Department of Health toll remains at 577
  • New restrictions introduced for hospital and care home visits
  • Two schools forced to close after separate outbreaks
  • So-called 'wet pubs' reopen in NI after six-month closure
  • Scroll down to see how Wednesday unfolded

Health Minister Robin Swann has said coronavirus is "gaining momentum" in Northern Ireland as he announced new restrictions will soon be put in place for visits to hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Mr Swann said new guidance will soon see visits to healthcare facilities restricted to one visit by one family member once a week, with flexibility for end-of-life care, maternity services and paediatric services.

The health minister said he is eager to avoid visitor restrictions in care homes around Northern Ireland.

It comes as chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said it is inevitable that challenges will increase as we enter the winter months and warned that there is still a possibility cases could increase to 500 a day.

"It doesn't have to be like that, but it is dependent on what we all do now," he said.

Mr Swann said he recently met with a family who were bereaved during an outbreak at Craigavon Area hospital.

"What happened at Craigavon Area Hospital and Daisy Hill Hospital shows the cruelty of the virus," he said.

Dr Guduru Gopal Rao, a microbiologist in London North West University NHS Trust, will lead the independent investigation into the review involving deaths of patients in the Southern Trust, he said.

It comes as a further 220 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for coronavirus, the Department of Health has confirmed.

This brings the total number of cases since the outbreak began to 9,761. Some 1,078 cases have been reported in the last seven days alone.

No further deaths have been reported leaving the toll at 577.

There are 41 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with six patients in intensive care.

A total of 27 care homes are also dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Here's how Wednesday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph