Northern Ireland news

Coronavirus: Around four in ten care home residents have been tested

Almost four in 10 care home residents in the north have been tested for coronavirus

Almost 40% of residents in the north's care homes have been tested for coronavirus, health minister Robin Swann has said.

He also announced that as of yesterday contact tracing was being undertaken for confirmed positive cases of Covid-19.

"We expect this service to be in place for the next year at a minimum," he said.

The R number is currently between 0.7 and 0.8, Mr Swann added. The R number is a key indicator of how fast coronavirus is spreading.

He said his department "will look at" publishing the R number on a weekly basis moving forward, "to see trends as to the steps that we've taken".

READ MORE: Executive to discuss permitting people to visit immediate family indoors on Thursday

Mr Swann warned against complacency around coronavirus and urged the public to remember the "devastating impact" Covid-19 is having.

He pointed to the latest figures from his department that the number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the north has risen to 489 after seven more deaths were reported.

Health Minister Robin Swann

Mr Swann issued a reminder about social distancing as some lockdown restrictions are eased.

"People will be out and about a bit more including meeting family members and friends outdoors ... please remember social distancing remains a matter of life and death," he said.

"Wash your hands like your life depends on it because it just might.

"Yesterday's announcement on changes to the restrictions was good news ... but we must not throw away that progress.

"Flouting the public health advice will lead to the lockdown being tightened."

Finance minister Conor Murphy has stressed the importance of the pathway to recovery from the pandemic being co-ordinated across Ireland.

He said ministers from Northern Ireland and the Republic will hold talks later tonight.

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Northern Ireland news