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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: New case in Carrickfergus school as two further deaths and 109 cases confirmed

  • NI death toll at 570
  • Swann rejects DUP MP claim Foster blocked further restrictions
  • Scroll down to follow today's live blog

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A health worker seals a coronavirus test sample for sending to a laboratory

A health worker seals a coronavirus test sample for sending to a laboratory

PA

Robin Swann hit out at DUP MP's Sammy Wilson's comments. (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

Robin Swann hit out at DUP MP's Sammy Wilson's comments. (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

A health worker seals a coronavirus test sample for sending to a laboratory

A Northern Ireland grammar school has confirmed that a member of the school community has tested positive for Covid-19.

School principal James Maxwell confirmed the news on Monday evening in a statement.

"I can confirm that a member of our school community has tested positive for Covid-19," he said. "We wish to reassure parents, students and the wider school community that every precaution has been taken.

"Ensuring the safety of pupils and staff is our absolute priority."

Earlier on Monday, the Department of Health said two further people in Northern Ireland have died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Both fatalities were women between the age of 60 and 79 and their deaths occurred in hospitals in the Belfast and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council areas on Friday. The death toll now stands at 570.

A further 109 cases of the virus have also been diagnosed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began to 8,423.

There are currently 16 Covid inpatients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with two patients in intensive care.

Some 24 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

It comes after Health Minister Robin Swann rejected as "ill-informed and bogus" claims by DUP MP Sammy Wilson the First Minister blocked the latest coronavirus restrictions going further.

"Our public health messaging is too important to play games with," the UUP MLA said.

On the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, Sammy Wilson said Arlene Foster had reined in health department "technocrats" who wanted to take more severe measures.

The East Antrim MP said: "If the technocrats in the Department of Health and if some of the ministers in the Executive had had their way these restrictions would be far more severe and many businesses would be experiencing far, far greater difficulties as a result of them."

The DUP's chief whip at Westminster added: "Other ministers wanted far, far more widespread restrictions and those were opposed by our party, and quite rightly so."

UUP leader Steve Aiken said the comments "undermined" the health minister and said if a member of his party had said something similar they would be expelled from the party.

The BBC Stephen Nolan show also reported that Justice Minister Naomi Long and Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon wanted a full lockdown imposed across Northern Ireland, as opposed to the localised restrictions that were put in place.

Naomi Long also debunked those claims: "I would suggest that whoever is commenting should at least try to be more accurate in future."

And Nichola Mallon said: "Deeply regrettable that in the middle of a public health crisis energies are being spent on giving misleading briefings."

An SDLP spokesperson said: "The comments made by Sammy Wilson have no basis in reality. The SDLP has argued for clarification of the restrictions, not further restrictions. The DUP should explain why one of its MPs is relating false reports from Executive meetings."

The parties, departments and the Executive Office have all been approached for comment.

On Thursday, ministers resolved to impose localised limitations on people socialising in Belfast, Ballymena and other areas with high infection rates which come into force today.

There will also be new legally enforceable social restrictions, with residents in these areas banned from visiting other households. There are a number of limited exceptions, including childcare provision and households that have formed a social bubble with another.

No more than six people, from no more than two households, are allowed to meet in private gardens.

Here's how Monday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph