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Coronavirus updates: Foster says Executive planning 'route back to normality', as 18 further deaths are recorded in Northern Ireland hospitals

  • "We are still in the middle of our surge", says Michelle O'Neill
  • Hospital death toll in NI reaches 176 - up 18
  • In a single week, almost one in six of all deaths registered in NI were linked to Covid-19
  • Another 847 hospital deaths are recorded across UK, bringing toll to 14,576
  • 44 more people have died in the Republic, with 709 new cases
  • UK Government's furlough scheme extended until end of June
  • Scroll down for coverage as it happened

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First Minister Arlene Foster and during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Friday. Photo by Kelvin Boyes  / Press Eye.

First Minister Arlene Foster and during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Friday. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

First Minister Arlene Foster and during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Friday. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

First Minister Arlene Foster has said the Executive is planning for a "route back" to normality, after it was confirmed a further 18 people have died in hospital in Northern Ireland after contracting coronavirus.

Speaking at the Executive's daily coronavirus press conference on Friday, Mrs Foster said "every death has robbed families of individuals who are cherished" and we cannot "relax our guard".

"This is a matter of life and death," she added.

Mrs Foster said we would in time return to normality and schools, bars and sports grounds would open again.

"It is important these restrictions are only temporary, we will return to something resembling normality," she said.

The First Minister said that the Executive was already working on a "recovery plan" for when the pandemic ends.

Her comments come after it was announced that the total number of patients who have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus has now reached 176.

The Public Health Agency has said that a further 137 people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections in Northern Ireland to 2,338.

So far a total of 15,025 people have been tested for the virus.

It comes as officials in Northern Ireland are now reporting the number of Covid-19 related deaths outside the hospital setting, and the figures make grim reading.

Some 41 patients died from coronavirus in care homes and hospices, while seven died in private residences.

Not all of these deaths necessarily followed a positive test for Covid-19, but are those where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate as a possible cause of contributing factor.

Meanwhile, in the Republic 44 more people have died from Covid-19, the Department of Health there confirmed.

A further 597 cases of the coronavirus have also been diagnosed, along with a backlog of 112 tests from a laboratory in Germany - bringing the total to 13,980 confirmed cases.

Here's how Friday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph