Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland Executive receives £50m cash injection to tackle coronavirus

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis
Cate McCurry, PA

The British Government has pledged a further £50 million in funding to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s bid to tackle coronavirus.

This takes the total funding the British Government has made available to Stormont to almost £1.2 billion.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said: “From the outset of this coronavirus crisis, the UK Government has committed to doing whatever it takes to support the devolved administrations in their fight to defeat this virus.

“The additional £50 million for the Northern Ireland Executive announced today will help bolster vital public services as they respond to the challenges of coronavirus.

“Today’s funding, in addition to the support offered to people and businesses across Northern Ireland through UK-wide initiatives, reinforces our commitment to ensuring that everyone in Northern Ireland is able to access the resources and support they need at this incredibly challenging time.”

On Saturday, the Public Health Agency said that a further 17 people in Northern Ireland died in hospital settings with coronavirus in the past day.

It takes the total number of confirmed deaths in hospital settings in the region to 193.

Another 148 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the PHA added, taking the total to 2,486.

The full death toll is likely to be higher after official statistics published on Friday showed the figures were around a third higher than previously reported.

The disparity is due to differences in how the statistics are gathered.

The latest figures were published as a union claimed a significant number of nurses, including some in the most high-risk environments, have felt pressure to work with inadequate protection.

High-risk environments include areas where patients with or suspected of having Covid-19 are treated on ventilators.

More than two-fifths of nurses surveyed in Northern Ireland (42%) who are treating patients in such areas reported being asked to reuse protective equipment marked as single use by manufacturers.

Of those treating Covid-19 patients elsewhere, over a third (38%) said they were being asked to reuse.

Pat Cullen, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Northern Ireland, said: “We all know that nursing staff have been under enormous pressure during this pandemic. However, it is shocking to find that nurses are feeling pressurised to work without the protection they need.”

The findings are from a survey conducted by the RCN to provide a snapshot of PPE shortages over the Easter weekend.

Health chiefs in Northern Ireland say they have secured millions of items from international and local suppliers.

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