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Covid case total in Northern Ireland tops 6,000

The number of positive cases of coronavirus continues to rise as two businesses in Newcastle, Co Down, closed due to outbreaks among staff.

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 (Liam McBurney/PA)

(Liam McBurney/PA)

(Liam McBurney/PA)

The total number of coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland has topped 6,000.

It comes as two businesses in Newcastle, Co Down, closed following outbreaks among their staff.

One of the businesses, Kent Amusements, located on the Central Promenade, announced on Facebook it is closing until further notice.

Unfortunately, this morning Kent Amusements has been notified that some of our staff members have tested positive for...

Posted by Kent Amusements on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

It said deep cleaning is being carried out at the premises and that all staff will be tested for Covid-19.

“We will reopen when we are assured it is safe to do so,” it added.

The Bonbon sweet shop also announced it would be closing as one of its staff members had tested positive for the virus.

Within the last hour we have been informed that a member of staff has tested positive for Covid 19... we shall be closed...

Posted by The Bonbon on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Earlier on Wednesday, it emerged that more than 6,000 people in Northern Ireland have now tested positive for coronavirus as the region continues to take steps out of lockdown.

The latest figures published by the Department of Health revealed 10 more cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 6,006.

Two patients with the virus are being treated in intensive care beds while there remain three outbreaks at care homes.

However, no new fatalities have been recorded in Northern Ireland for almost three weeks, leaving the total death toll at 556, according to the departmental figures, which are based on those who previously tested positive for the virus.

Another set of figures calculated by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra), using information from death certificates, shows the total number of Covid-19-related deaths registered in the region to July 24 was 853.

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Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 contact tracing mobile phone app is the first of its kind in the UK (PA)

Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 contact tracing mobile phone app is the first of its kind in the UK (PA)

PA

Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 contact tracing mobile phone app is the first of its kind in the UK (PA)

Meanwhile, almost 20% of the adult population in Northern Ireland have downloaded a smartphone app to track the spread of coronavirus.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the Stop Covid NI app has been downloaded 170,000 times since it was launched last week.

The app, aimed at interrupting the spread of coronavirus by finding those most at risk of catching it, was the first of its kind to launch in the UK.

It alerts close contacts of a patient within a day or two of a positive test.

Mr Campbell praised the take-up of the app, and urged the Department of Health to release results of how many alerts have been generated to users.

With schools due to reopen in the coming weeks, Sinn Fein MLA Catherine Kelly has urged Education Minister Peter Weir to urgently publish a plan around children returning to the classroom.

She said parents are contacting her party’s advice centres and schools “on a daily basis” seeking more information about the return to school.

“Only weeks away from the reopening of schools, there is still no clear guidance from the minister,” she said.

Mr Weir published guidance in June aimed at providing a “planning framework for the restart of schools in August/September”.

This guidance states that Primary 7 and Years 12 and 14 should return on August 24 if it is safe to do so, while other year groups should return by the normal school starting date.

Face coverings are strongly encouraged in Northern Ireland’s shops, but are not mandatory.

The Northern Ireland Executive is due to review the policy on August 20, however there have been calls to follow policy in England and Wales where they are mandatory in shops.

It has been reported that Health Minister Robin Swann wants the review date brought forward to August 13, a move Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill has indicated she supports.

After the Northern Ireland Executive announced that swimming pools and spas could reopen from July 24, the first are due to welcome the public in Belfast on Thursday.

Six pools will reopen, including the newly refurbished Andersonstown Leisure Centre in the west of the city, as well as Lisnasharragh, Olympia, Falls, Whiterock and Grove.

PA