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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Six deaths and 923 cases reported by Department of Health

  • Death toll rises to 645
  • Number of confirmed cases since outbreak now 33,209
  • Scroll down to read Saturday's live blog

A further six people in Northern Ireland have died after testing positive for Covid-19 and 923 new cases of the virus have been reported.

It brings the death toll in the region to 645 and the total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak to 33,209. Some 6,839 people have tested positive in the last seven days.

There are currently 309 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with 34 patients in intensive care and 27 requiring ventilation.

A total of 92 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

The news comes after Health Minister Robin Swann has sounded a cautious note of optimism and expressed hope we are beginning to "turn the corner" of the second wave of the pandemic.

Mr Swann said the rate of infection has slowed since last week, likely reflecting the impact of the harsher regulations.

In a statement to the Assembly on Friday, the Ulster Unionist MLA said: "Whilst we are sadly reporting a number of deaths each day now, and R remains above one both for cases and hospital admissions, it does appear that Northern Ireland may be beginning to turn the corner on this wave.

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"The R number has fallen slightly since last week. This is likely to reflect both the impact of the Northern Ireland-wide household restrictions and the wider restrictions in Derry City and Strabane Local Government District area.

"The percentage of positive tests has also begun to plateau, while remaining at a high level. Assuming that current restrictions reduce R to less than one, Professor Young (chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young) has advised that we expect some indication of an improvement in these measures in the next week."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, however, has refused to rule out an extension of the restrictions, stating "everything has to remain on the table" for the Executive in tackling the pandemic.

She was speaking in her home town of Coalisland in public for the first time since completing 14 days of self-isolation.

"I don't want us to have to impose further restrictions, I hope we can avoid that. But I'm honest enough to be able to say that all these things have to remain on the table," she said.

Meanwhile, Queen's University virologist Dr Connor Bamford has said that only an urgent overhaul of the test and trace system can prevent the need for the third lockdown over the Christmas holidays.

Check out our live blog below to see how Saturday's coronavirus developments unfolded:

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