Northern Ireland news

Concern as new Covid-19 cases beginning to spiral

Health minister Robin Swann

THE number of new Covid-19 cases in the north is starting to spiral with 48 people testing positive in the past 24 hours.

Health Minister Robin Swann expressed his concern at the increasing number.

The `data dashboard' reported 48 new cases and 194 positive tests over the past seven days.

There is now an average of more than 27 new positive cases per day compared to approximately three per day a few weeks ago.

Mr Swann said nine people had been admitted to hospital, two of which were currently in ICU.

"This highlights the continuing threat from Covid-19 and we must all do everything within our power to tackle this," he said.

"Contact tracing remains key to tackling Covid-19 and I congratulate the team who are working hard to track and trace those who have been in contact with positive cases. The StopCOVID NI app is also fundamental in this fight. Since going live I am heartened that there have been over 230,000 downloads however I am urging everyone to share the app with friends and family who have not yet got it. The more people that have it, the more effective it will be.

"The threat has not gone away and our HSC system still needs our support. I therefore make no apology for once again urging everyone to remain vigilant."

In the past few days, several sporting clubs and venues in west Belfast have been affected.

The minister added: “We spent many weeks clapping in support of our health and social care staff and I urge everyone to remember why we did that.

“The threat has not gone away and our health and social care system still needs our support.

“The measures that we have introduced will help slow the spread of Covid-19 and keep more of our loved ones and family safe.”

A leading Northern Ireland school has told pupils and staff they must wear face masks when classes resume later this month.

Belfast Royal Academy, a co-educational grammar school in the north of the city, issued the guidance in a letter to parents and guardians.

It said pupils would not be allowed into class without a mask.

The school said it would be issuing washable face masks to pupils.

Last week, Stormont’s education minister Peter Weir said children would not have to don them in schools, insisting such a policy would be “not implementable”.

However, the Executive’s chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young has said the wearing of face coverings by older pupils in certain school settings could offer some benefit.

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