Northern Ireland news

Robin Swann saddened by Covid-19 death and rise in cases

Four coronavirus-linked deaths occurred in the latest week subjected to statistical analysis

HEALTH Minister Robin Swann has said he is saddened by the latest Covid-19 death and rise in cases.

An additional 74 people have tested positive across Northern Ireland.

One patient is being ventilated in intensive care in hospital, the Department of Health said.

Eight hospital beds are occupied by people with the disease. Three outbreaks of the illness in care homes have been recorded and five are suspected.

Four coronavirus-linked deaths occurred in the latest week subjected to statistical analysis, unrelated figures showed.

The fatalities from August 1 to August 7 took the total recorded by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) to 859.

The Nisra data gives a fuller picture of Covid-19 fatalities than the daily figures released by the department, which focus primarily on hospital deaths and only include people who have tested positive for the virus.

Nisra obtains its statistics using death certificates in which Covid-19 is recorded as a factor by a medical professional, regardless of where the fatality occurred. The person may or may not have tested positive for the virus.

This month Mr Swann said some people had stopped following basic guidance to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The daily average of new diagnoses has increased since last month.

Mr Swann has expressed concern about complacency as many lockdown measures are eased.

He said: "The weather has been very kind this week and with good weather comes more people out and about, on our streets, in our shops and on our beaches.

"We continue to see increasing numbers of positive cases across Northern Ireland and whilst that is not unexpected, the number of close contacts linked to positive cases has more than doubled since July.

"This rise may be attributed to the easing of lockdown measures, but may also be explained by relaxing of attitudes to social distancing.

"We cannot become complacent because this virus continues to circulate and sadly continues to have devastating consequences for families."

The rolling average of positive tests has risen this month to levels comparable to early summer, according to data published by the department.

Mr Swann added that Friday's "upsetting" news served as a stark reminder that this virus has not gone away.

"I implore everyone to stick with it. Keep your distance, wash your hands, wear your mask and do not let this virus take a hold in our society.

"These measures, while simplistic, are essential to winning the battle."

In the Republic, the Department of Health said it had been notified of 67 additional cases of Covid-19 and no deaths on Friday.

Almost half of new coronavirus cases are linked to outbreaks in workplaces, according to new figures.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said 46 per cent of Covid-19 deaths and cases reported in the week ended August 7 were linked to an outbreak in a workplace.

The CSO added that Kildare, Laois and Offaly, the three counties which have been put into localised lockdown, "made up three-quarters of all cases linked to an outbreak" for that week.

Meanwhile, tourists in France are being charged hundreds of pounds to return home before quarantine restrictions are imposed.

Air fares are more than six times higher than normal for flights from Paris to London on Friday, with the cheapest British Airways tickets being sold for £452.

Travellers willing to pay these inflated fares could still miss out due to many services already being fully booked.

It was announced on Thursday night that people arriving in Britain and Northern Ireland from France after 4am on Saturday will be required to spend 14 days in self-isolation due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases there.

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