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Michelle O’Neill: No new Covid restrictions before Christmas

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Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA

PA

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA

There are not expected to be any further Covid-19 restrictions introduced in Northern Ireland before Christmas, according to the deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

Ms O’Neill was speaking outside the Mater Hospital in north Belfast following a meeting with representatives from the Royal College of Surgeons.

The deputy First Minister said officials were still examining the new Omicron variant but said the existing restrictions in place were “enough” and there were no plans for any further measures.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

The minister also said the assessment from officials suggested Northern Ireland is “past the peak” of the Delta variant.

Earlier this week, Ms O’Neill took to Twitter to dismiss what she branded “bogus” rumours circulating on social media which suggested a potential new lockdown could be introduced before the festive season begins.

Ms O’Neill said the text was a “sinister attempt" to spread “misinformation.

She hit out at the rumours again and accused such social media posts of being “shameful”.

"Times are hard enough, times are challenging enough so I would encourage everybody to take their information directly from ourselves who are elected in the Executive, the Public Health Agency and the department of health," she said.

"Those that are engaged in disinformation is just shameful and it is causing confusion that people don't need.

"We have had an assessment around where we're at, and I think we're probably past the peak in terms of the Delta variant. That's good, however there is no room to be complacent.

On Friday she added: "I asked the question at yesterday's executive meeting: are we doing enough?

"The answer was that we are - we are concerned about the new variant, we don't know the impact but as long as the public continue to adhere to what's being asked at the current time, it's sufficient.

"I think it's going to be an uncertain period for the next number of weeks however we don't expect, at this moment in time, to be asking people to do more.

"We're asking people to comply and double up on all of our efforts in terms of our own personal decisions.”

It comes as Northern Ireland recorded a further four deaths linked to Covid-19.

This brings the number of deaths linked to the coronavirus in Northern Ireland up to 2,885.

A further 1,908 individuals have also tested positive for the virus, out of 6,290 people that were tested over the past 24 hours.

There are currently 326 Covid inpatients, with hospitals working at 102% overcapacity and there were 163 Covid-linked hospital admissions overall in the last week.

On Thursday, the Executive said the emergence of the Omicron variant was a “serious and concerning development worldwide”.

They said they were committed to keeping schools open and confirmed evidence on the new variant is being very closely monitored and that Northern Ireland’s public health experts “will continue to liaise with colleagues in other jurisdictions as the situation develops globally and locally”.


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