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Health Minister warns age ‘no discriminator’ over report three-week-old baby in intensive care with Covid

Swann suggests high street voucher scheme may only be given to vaccinated but Economy minister opposed

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Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann

The intensive care unit at Belfast City Hospital is full.

The intensive care unit at Belfast City Hospital is full.

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Health Minister Robin Swann

A three-week-old baby is currently in intensive care with Covid-19 in a Northern Ireland hospital, the BBC has reported. 

It was revealed on the Radio Ulster Nolan show. 

It is not known which hospital the baby is receiving treatment in, nor any other details about the child.

Health Minister Robin Swann said it would not be right or appropriate to discuss individual cases. 

“In regard to the patients we are supporting our health service is doing its utmost.

"This virus is no discriminator against age, sex, religion and that is why are vaccine programme is there."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said they too would not comment on individual cases.

Latest figures from the Department of Health show younger people are increasingly being hospitalised as a result of the virus.

Intensive care units across Northern Ireland are close to capacity, with two units full.

Northern Ireland’s chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle said the increasing figures of younger people are as a result of significant numbers of those under 30 not getting vaccinated.

Health Minister Robin Swann also told the BBC he would consider making the high street voucher programme made available only to those fully vaccinated.

Mr Swann said he would discuss the matter with the Executive.

"I know of other countries where they have actually been running lottery schemes for people who have come forward to get their vaccination,” he said.

"It is something I will have the discussion and raise at the Executive committee certainly as regards to that incentive for people to come forward and get vaccinated.”

DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons told the BBC he would not be in favour of the idea of needing to prove a full vaccination before anyone could cash in their high street voucher.

While former Economy Minister Paul Frew said the idea of the voucher being tied to vaccination status was “utter madness”.

"The High Street STIMULUS Scheme is designed to stimulate local businesses following the harmful lockdowns, open to every person in Northern Ireland aged 18 and over. Totally opposed to using it to discriminate against people on their medical history & status,” he wrote on Twitter.

DUP colleague Sammy Wilson also responded with a clapping hand emoji on the social media platform when responding to a tweet about the comments from Gordon Lyons

On Monday outdoor concerts for Belsonic and Custom House Square in August and September announced that all ticket holders would be required to demonstrate their Covid-19 status to gain entry.

This includes proof of a full vaccination or a negative lateral flow Covid test 48 hours prior to arrival.

When asked if this would be part of the Executive policy for other events going forward, Mr Swann said those discussions were still to take place.

"The Executive still has to have those wider policy decisions about access to vaccinated and un-vaccinated,” he added.

"I’m fully aware there are now a number of concerts coming forward – Belsonic and the Custom House Square events – asking anyone who is going to attend to either be vaccinated or have proof of a negative test as well.

"Whereas it may not be policy yet for the Executive yet, there are those organisers of large scale events who want to make their events safe.

"It is something that will be taken as a wider Executive discussion. My view is we should be getting as many vaccinated at this time, but it is also not something we should be using to deny people access to facilities or venues.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department for the Economy said: “The Economy Minister does not support making the High Street Scheme conditional on individuals being fully vaccinated. Such a suggestion would create unnecessary bureaucracy, throws up a range of legal issues and could ultimately jeopardise the entire scheme.

“As previously announced by the Department for the Economy, and backed by the Executive, every person in Northern Ireland aged 18 and over will be eligible to apply for a pre-paid card worth £100 to spend in supporting local businesses. Further announcements will be made in due course.”


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