| 12.3°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Questions raised over accuracy of NI restrictions map

New localised coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland have come into force, but questions have already been raised about the accuracy of a new interactive map.

Health Minister Robin Swann announced last week the restrictions would apply to households living in places including the Belfast City Council area and Ballymena town.

With many left unsure who the restrictions actually applied to, an interactive map was published online yesterday.

But the DUP MP for East Belfast, Gavin Robinson, quickly questioned on Twitter why it "erroneously" included areas like Dundonald which had not previously been announced.

It comes as a further two coronavirus-related deaths were announced in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 573.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

A further 129 positive cases have also been confirmed, bringing the total to 8,631 and with a total of 4,953 individuals tested in the last 24 hours.

In the Irish Republic, a further three people with Covid-19 have died while an additional 254 cases of the virus have also been confirmed.

At a Stormont briefing, Mr Swann condemned recent scenes of young people partying in the Holyland area of Belfast but said it did not represent most young people.

Roisin Devlin, a senior nurse from Ulster Hospital, also warned the public that her colleagues were now expecting the worst winter in living memory.

The Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Ian Young, added that Covid-related hospital admissions were now at their highest level since July.

On the localised restrictions now in force, Mr Swann said the rules were "not complicated" and were designed to limit contact between households and gatherings in private gardens.

He added that there should be no complacency in other parts of Northern Ireland as rates of infection could increase "rapidly and with catastrophic consequences" and that he would not hesitate adding more postcodes if needed.

Mr Swann explained restrictions had not included businesses like pubs and restaurants where social distancing could be strictly monitored.

Analysing the latest data, Professor Ian Young said that since last week the average number of new cases per day had remained steady at between 90-100.

He said testing levels had also remained constant at around 20 tests per 1,000 population each day, which he said was "significantly higher" when compared to other UK regions and the Irish Republic.

A rise in Covid positive patients to hospitals in the last seven days, he said, were now at the highest levels since late June.

"It reflects the fact that a higher percentage of cases are being observed in the over 60s who are the greatest risk of severe illness."

At present the localised restrictions apply to the Belfast City Council area, postcode areas BT28, BT29, the town of Ballymena and BT43.

The regulations apply to everyone living in these areas, requiring no mixing of households in private dwellings.

Exemptions are in place for households who are bubbling and for caring responsibilities.

Top Videos