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Minister acknowledges public restless over lockdown regulations

On Tuesday, the region announced zero deaths for the first time since the outbreak took hold in March.

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Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye)

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye)

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye)

A Stormont minister has acknowledged the public is restless and want answers ahead of the latest review of lockdown regulations.

Ministers will meet in Belfast on Thursday to review the current scientific and medical advice ahead of deciding whether Northern Ireland can take further steps out of lockdown.

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said two further coronavirus deaths on Wednesday served as poignant reminder of the risk still posed by Covid 19.

On Tuesday, the region announced zero deaths for the first time since the outbreak took hold in March.

“We must stick to the rules to keep each other safe,” said Ms Mallon.

“But I know communities are restless and you want answers. That is why it is vitally important that as your executive, you have clear communication from us.”

The minister said the executive needed to be honest with the public.

“There is still a lot to do and a long road ahead,” she said.

The two further deaths brought the total death toll among those who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland to 516.

The Department of Health also reported a further 26 cases of confirmed Covid-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of positive cases in Northern Ireland to 4,663.

In other developments, Ulster University announced that lectures will be delivered online during the first term of the new academic year.

It is expected to be at least Christmas before physical classes resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New police figures have revealed the number of fines issued by police in Northern Ireland for breaches of lockdown rules dropped from nearly 400 to 30 in the last month.

Meanwhile, a senior Stormont official said coronavirus had diverted attention away from preparations for Brexit.

The Executive Office’s Director General of International Relations Andrew McCormick said Brexit preparations had to be “dealt with urgently” with only seven months until the end of the transition period.

PA