| 16.4°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Toll of projected NI deaths shows importance of following advice, say Stormont leaders

Close

Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health, First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill during their daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Wednesday. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health, First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill during their daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Wednesday. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health, First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill during their daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Wednesday. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

First Minister Arlene Foster says the current modelling which suggests 3,000 deaths due to coronavirus in Northern Ireland over a 20-week period is a “sobering statistic”.

Mrs Foster told the daily briefing by the Stormont Executive that this death toll “would be about 500 people short of the lives lost during the Troubles”.

She was speaking after the Health Minister Robin Swann earlier set out the key findings of the expert NI modelling study which will be used in hospital planning for the forthcoming Covid-19 surge.

Wednesday evening's briefing came as health officials confirmed that the number of people who have died in Northern Ireland after contracting coronavirus has risen by two to 30.

Testing has resulted in 103 new positive results, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the region to 689.

In a small tight knit society like ours we are all likely to know someone who will be impacted Arlene Foster

Referring to the modelling data, the DUP leader said: “The loss of each of those lives is a huge blow, not only to their families, but of course to the communities from which they come from.

“In a small tight knit society like ours we are all likely to know someone who will be impacted and it will be a cruel blow and we will need to do everything we can to comfort and support their relatives and indeed each other in the difficult weeks and months ahead.”

It only serves to reinforce how crucially important it is that people keep doing the things that are asked of them at this time in order to allow us to be able to save lives Michelle O'Neill

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added: “There’s no doubt that this modelling work will alarm people who will be concerned.

“It’s a scary prospect for all of us but particularly for those older people and those who are vulnerable.

“It only serves to reinforce how crucially important it is that people keep doing the things that are asked of them at this time in order to allow us to be able to save lives.

“The actions of each and every one of us are crucial in reducing the death toll.

“These are frightening times and I think everyone shares that fear about what is upon us.

“No one feels that more acutely than our healthcare workers. They are worried too about the risk to themselves and to their families and patients.

"They are terrified of not being able to continue to their jobs. I acknowledge that fear and we have to build confidence right across the health service, among our staff and make sure they are protected and supported in the lifesaving work that they are doing.”

Ms O’Neill again stressed that healthcare workers are “crying out” for personal protective equipment (PPE) and more testing, a message she said was relayed to her earlier today during discussions with the Royal College of Nursing.

Also attending today’s briefing was Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Health who said 3,000 deaths “is an extraordinary event to occur in the life of Northern Ireland and really terrible for everyone who might be impacted”.

He added: “I hope that if people stick to the social distancing measures that we will do significantly better than that.”

Belfast Telegraph