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No change to lockdown in Northern Ireland with infection rate remaining high

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Belfast city centre has been virtually deserted through the lockdown (Justin Kernoghan/PA)

Belfast city centre has been virtually deserted through the lockdown (Justin Kernoghan/PA)

PA

Belfast city centre has been virtually deserted through the lockdown (Justin Kernoghan/PA)

The First and Deputy First Ministers have said there will be no change to lockdown measures in Northern Ireland.

It had been expected that a roadmap plan to ease restrictions would be announced today, but First Minister Arlene Foster said it remained “a work in progress”.

It comes as a further four Covid-19 deaths have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 422.

The UK total has reached 30,615, after a further 539 Covid-19 deaths were confirmed.

In the Irish Republic 1,375 deaths have been recorded, with 37 more announced on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Daily Executive briefing, Mrs Foster said the Executive was still working on the roadmap plan to recovery.

A phased plan has already been announced in the Irish Republic and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to reveal his plan on Sunday.

“Today we have decided not to make any alterations to the regulations,” Mrs Foster said.

“We still believe they are needed and are proportionate to deal with the threat of the virus.”

The R-0 rating, used to determine the rate of transmission, is currently around 0.8 in Northern Ireland which is below the critical rating of 1.

Mrs Foster said this was still higher than other parts of the UK and more in keeping with Scotland and Wales.

She added that a number of “minor adjustments” to the restrictions would be considered next week.

The DUP leader said the Executive has agreed that the public will be asked to consider using home made “face coverings” in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible.

Ahead of VE day on Friday, Mrs Foster called for the public to show continued resolve against the “invisible enemy” of Covid-19.

“Our world is a long way away from it’s VE day in the fight against coronavirus.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the fight against coronavirus was still on “a knife edge” in Northern Ireland.

She said the R-0 rating showed there was "no headroom for change at this moment in time" and the Executive hoped to publish the roadmap to recovery within days.

Belfast Telegraph