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Northern Ireland coronavirus deaths rises 10-fold within a week as confirmed cases exceed 400


Chief executive officer of the NHS Simon Stevens, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries address the media yesterday

Chief executive officer of the NHS Simon Stevens, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries address the media yesterday

10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty

Chief executive officer of the NHS Simon Stevens, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries address the media yesterday

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Northern Ireland has increased 10-fold in just one week.

A further six fatalities were announced yesterday, bringing the total number here to 21.

It was the largest one-day rise in deaths connected to Covid-19 in the region to date. Two more were announced on Saturday.

At the same stage a week earlier, two people had died.

The Public Health Agency also said that another 86 people had tested positive for the virus ­­- almost double the Saturday figure of 49.

In total there are now 410 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland.

In the Irish Republic, it was announced yesterday that 10 more people died from Covid-19 and 200 new cases have been diagnosed.

A further 14 deaths were announced on Saturday.

It means that across the island of Ireland, 32 Covid-19 deaths were announced over the weekend.

There have now been 67 Covid-19 related deaths across Ireland, up from 29 deaths four days earlier, on Thursday.

Across the UK, another 209 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total to 1,235.

As the crisis continued yesterday:

  • Northern Ireland roads were almost deserted as new police powers came into force.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned things will get worse before they get better in a letter to be sent to all UK households this week.
  • Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the UK was on "emergency footing" in a way "unprecedented" in peacetime.
  • The NHS announced the first confirmed death of a frontline hospital worker with Covid-19.
  • Spain suffered a new grim daily record of deaths ­­- 838 in 24 hours ­- as the worldwide death toll passed 30,000.

Yesterday a key government doctor warned that normal life will not resume for at least six months.

Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said the UK will not be in "complete lockdown" for half a year but said social distancing measures will be lifted gradually.

Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said "we simply cannot" ask health workers to go on to the frontline without adequate protective equipment, as he announced the emergency footing was an "unprecedented step in peace time".

Dr Harries said the three-week reviews on the measures to slow the disease's spread will likely continue for six months and that their success would be judged on slowing its rate.

"But we must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living, that would be quite dangerous," she said.

A sudden lifting could see the nation's sacrifices "wasted" with another spike in deaths.

"We need to keep that lid on and then gradually we will be able to hopefully adjust some of the social distancing measures and gradually get us all back to normal," she said.

"Three weeks for review, two or three months to see if we've really squashed it, but three to six months, ideally, but lots of uncertainty in that but then to see at which point we can actually get back to normal and it is plausible it could go further than that.

"This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months, but as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we're all doing until we're sure we can gradually start lifting various interventions which are likely to be spaced - based on the science and our data - until we gradually come back to a normal way of living."

Communities Secretary Mr Jenrick announced that the emergency footing was now raised in all parts of the country.

"This is an unprecedented step in peace time, we haven't done anything like this since the Second World War," he said.

"This means that we are establishing strategic coordination centres across the whole country."

Each would be led by gold commanders and have members of the armed forces embedded in them, he explained.

Moments before, the NHS had announced the death of 55-year-old consultant Amged El-Hawrani amid concerns staff do not have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE)

Mr Jenrick said all NHS trusts and healthcare settings had received PPE deliveries and all social care sites will have received packages shortly.

"We simply cannot and should not ask people to be on the frontline without the right protective equipment," he said.

Mr El-Hawrani's death came as the toll in UK hospitals reached 1,235, a rise of 209 which was a smaller increase than 24 hours earlier.

This was the second biggest day-on-day rise, however it was smaller than the 260 increase reported the day before.

But experts warned it was too early to claim the rate was decreasing and Dr Harries said she expected the coronavirus death toll to increase "for the next week or two".

Oxford University Professor James Naismith said: "It is true that this is less than might have been expected from exponential growth.

"However, daily numbers can be lower (or higher) than expected due to random factors.

"It is far too early to conclude that the lower number today than yesterday is not simply due to chance."

Cabinet minister Michael Gove had earlier warned the lockdown will last for a "significant period" but was unable to make "an accurate prediction" on how long it must be endured.

Mr Gove declined to be drawn on one key scientist's estimate of June being the earliest likely month that they could be eased, but warned the lockdown will last longer if the rules are not obeyed.

Belfast Telegraph