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Health minister expresses concern at spike in Covid-19 cases

Some 1,083 cases were notified by the department of health on Thursday, up from 636 on Wednesday.


Health Minister Robin Swann (PressEye/PA)

Health Minister Robin Swann (PressEye/PA)

Health Minister Robin Swann (PressEye/PA)

Northern Ireland’s health minister has expressed concern following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Some 1,083 cases were notified by the Department of Health on Thursday, up from 636 on Wednesday.

This is the first time the daily case number has been over 1,000 since the peak of the third wave of the pandemic in mid January.

The number of people testing positive over the past seven days is now at 4,437.

The average seven-day incident rate per 100,000 people across Northern Ireland was 234 on Thursday.

Derry and Strabane had the highest rate at 372 followed by Belfast on 319 while Fermanagh and Omagh had the lowest rate at nine.

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Robin Swann said the increase in cases is in the younger age groups, and urged all to take up the coronavirus vaccine.

“We have seen the numbers climb in recent weeks but today’s spike in cases is cause for concern,” he said.

“This is the first time since January that we’re reporting a daily change of over 1,000 positive cases, and while we are in a more fortunate position with a large proportion of the population now vaccinated we must remain cautious.

“We need everyone to play their part in helping to stop the spread of the virus.

“Our advice remains the same, stick to guidelines and regulations, all adults aged 18 and over should get vaccinated, and ensure you and your close contacts self-isolate if you test positive.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in cases in the younger age group so I would make a particular appeal to this group to get vaccinated.

“Covid-19 has left many with debilitating long-term health issues, don’t put yourself at risk, get the vaccine.

“We all want to enjoy the summer but we must continue to do it safely.”

No further coronavirus-linked deaths were reported on Thursday leaving the toll at 2,159.

Meanwhile on Thursday morning there were 80 Covid-19 positive patients in hospital, with two in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Sir Michael McBride said vaccination “is key to preventing serious illness”.

“With such high infection levels circulating in the community it is vital that all those eligible for vaccination come forward for their jab,” he said.

“Our vaccination programme has been very successful and there is no doubt that many people are alive in Northern Ireland today because they have been vaccinated.”

Sir Michael said the health service is currently struggling to cope with the current levels of demand for care.

“We simply cannot continue to add more pressure,” he said.

“We must work together to drive down infection levels.

“This means we must all continue to follow the behaviours that we are all accustomed to, and that we know limit the spread of the virus.”

Earlier First Minister Paul Givan encouraged take up of the coronavirus vaccine as he received his second dose at the SSE Arena in Belfast.

He described the vaccine as key to escaping the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on our lives.

Mr Givan described “strength in numbers” as important, adding: “the more people get vaccinated the better equipped we are collectively we are to fight this virus”.

To date, 2,145,799 vaccines have been administered.

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