Northern Ireland news

'Many thousands' in north may have coronavirus

Brendan Hughes, Seanín Graham and Ryan McAleer

MANY thousands of people may already have coronavirus in Northern Ireland, the chief medical officer has warned.

Dr Michael McBride said testing will increase to more than 1,000 a day by next week – and that will help give a better idea of the infection's spread.

Around 40,000 of the most vulnerable are to be written to by their GPs, urging them to be extra careful and stay at home.

"At this point in time, I suspect there are many thousands of individual cases in Northern Ireland," Dr McBride said.

Three people with Covid-19 in the north have died since Tuesday, bringing the total to seven.

The number of confirmed cases also increased by 37 yesterday to 209.

In the Republic, there were two more deaths and 235 new cases.

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Some employees also walked off an ABP meat processing site in Lurgan, with both companies defending their practises.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill called on non-essential employers to close – and if they had to remain open, to take steps to ensure staff safety.

The DUP leader said firms cannot carry on as normal and face enforcement action if they don't "get their act together".

Sinn Féin vice-president Ms O'Neill said she had seen vans full of men still going to work.

"That is not acceptable, that is not safe so that needs to be stopped," she said.

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Northern Ireland news