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Coronavirus: Three further deaths in Northern Ireland

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Crisis management: staff wearing PPE cleaning a hospital ward

Crisis management: staff wearing PPE cleaning a hospital ward

PA

Crisis management: staff wearing PPE cleaning a hospital ward

There have been three further Covid-19-linked deaths in Northern Ireland, new Department of Health figures have revealed.

The total number of deaths now stands at 476, most of which have taken place in hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has said an update to a dashboard used to update the public on statistics around coronavirus deaths and cases has been delayed due to a server failure.

They've said they are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

On Saturday, the total of confirmed positive results in the region stood at 4,357.

The three latest deaths were announced hours before some lockdown restrictions will be lifted in Northern Ireland.

Garden centres and household recycling facilities will reopen on Monday.

Angling will also be permitted, as will marriages involving someone with a terminal illness.

Stormont's leaders are expected to announce a series of other relaxations on Monday afternoon, with the region expected to formally move to phase one of its five-step exit plan.

Outdoor gatherings of four to six people from outside the same household are expected to be given the go-ahead, as is the reopening of churches for solitary prayer and drive-in services.

On Sunday, two senior church leaders cast doubt on whether drive-in services would materialise.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Eamon Martin, said he did not think Catholic churches would be considering the option in "any serious way".

He told BBC Radio Ulster: "It really wouldn't be something that would be part of the Catholic tradition".

Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell said people may prefer to watch services online than sitting in cars in a church car park.

Golf and tennis could also be given the green light in the coming week.

Stormont ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the latest moves ahead of an anticipated statement by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

They were informed by their chief scientific and medical advisers on Thursday that it was now appropriate to move to phase one of the plan.

Ministers were told that the infection rate (R0) was below 0.7.

The R0, which is the number of people an infected person transmits the disease to, is a crucial consideration in any decision to ease restrictions.

An R0 below one means the virus's prevalence is gradually decreasing, while a number above one would result in exponential growth.

NHS England on Sunday announced 90 new deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19.

It brings the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 24,617.

The figures published today by NHS England show April 8 continues to have the highest number for the most hospital deaths occurring on a single day, with a current total of 889.

Belfast Telegraph