Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann said he would be asking fellow ministers to tighten coronavirus restrictions during an “important” Executive meeting tomorrow.
He said: “The message is simple. The summer is over.
“In common with other jurisdictions we have decisions to make on how we stem a disturbing increase in Covid cases.
“I believe concrete action is now necessary.
"I am confident ministers will agree with me on the need for action - the figures suggest the time has come that we need to introduce measures to limit contact between people."
Mr Swann said that case numbers have been rising sharply and so have the percentage of positive tests and more people of an older age are testing positive.
"We know the implications of that for our loved ones.
"If a foreign country had our figures we would be imposing quarantine on anyone returning from us."
He says he does not want to restrict freedom and had supported the opening society for peoples' mental and physically health and the economy.
Northern Ireland’s chief scientific adviser to ministers combating the pandemic, Professor Ian Young, said there had been a 20-fold increase in the number of cases in recent times compared to just a five-fold rise in the number of tests.
The daily average is now over 90.
Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said: “We are now at a crossroads, individually and collectively.
“As a society we have stark choices to make.”
If a foreign country had our figures we would be imposing quarantine on anyone returning from usRobin Swann
A further 49 positive Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has announced.
There have been no further deaths, with the toll remaining at 567.
It brings to 7,957 the total number of cases. Some 607 people have tested positive for the virus over the past seven days.
There are currently 16 confirmed inpatients with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland hospitals, with two in intensive care units.
In Northern Ireland care homes, there are 22 active care home outbreaks, with 185 outbreaks closed.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ulster Carpets announced they are to cut 70 jobs due to difficulties caused by coronavirus.
It follows a review of the company's business prospects, which rely heavily on the cruise ship and hospitality industry, due to the pandemic.
Despite the ongoing recovery of the retail sector, it's believed "onerous" restrictions on air travel will have a longer-lasting impact.
Meanwhile, Belfast is reporting a surge in demand for Covid-19 tests by health care workers.
Some have claimed they've been unable to secure an urgent appointment despite trying dozens of times.
And a Belfast hairdresser has said the impact of the virus has led him to close his business permanently.
Bill Harris intends to close his current Hill Street premises, in the city's Cathedral Quarter this weekend.
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