Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: 14 deaths and more than 1,800 new cases across the north over the weekend

Fourteen people were reported to have died on Saturday and Sunday as a result of coronavirus in Northern Ireland
Fourteen people were reported to have died on Saturday and Sunday as a result of coronavirus in Northern Ireland

FOURTEEN people died from coronavirus over the weekend in Northern Ireland - with more than 1,800 new cases.

The death total in the north now stands at 653 with 34,105 people confirmed as having tested positive, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

There are 317 people in hospital with Covid-19, of whom 37 are in intensive care.

In the Republic, four people were reported to have died over the weekend, with almost 1,900 new cases.

1,882 people have now died from the virus in the Republic, which has recorded more than 57,000 confirmed cases.

315 people are in hospital, with 38 of those in intensive care.

The figures come amidst tight restrictions on both sides of the border, as the economic shock of the new measures hits businesses and jobs.

The Stormont Executive has confirmed funding of almost £16 million is to be released this week to assist the arts and culture sectors across the north.

Communities minister Carál Ní Chuilín approved the release of the funding. Full details are to be confirmed on Wednesday.

The support for the sectors will be distributed by the Arts Council and its partner organisations in the heritage and language sectors.

The Department for Communities said almost half of the money - £7.75m - will be made available to arts organisations.

The remaining half will be split between a Heritage Recovery Fund, which will receive £5.5m, while £2.5m is to be shared between the Ulster Scots, Irish language and sign language sectors.

It follows an announcement last week of a £3m package to support individual artists.

Ms Ní Chuilín said: “Over 1,000 individual artists, which include front-of-house people, craftspeople, technicians, designers, musicians, artists and actors, are already benefitting from the £3m funding that was made available last week and I look forward to hearing what the other sectors do with this next phase of funding in the months ahead.

"I am determined that our creative and heritage sectors emerge stronger than ever and that they are fit-for-purpose to take on the huge challenge of helping those who need help the most."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Robin Swann has outlined measures his department is taking to assist children.

These have included changing legislation to enable social workers to deliver services within longer timescales or in different ways and additional funding for children's social services and foster carers.

Mr Swann said the outbreak of coronavirus and accompanying restrictions had "brought increased pressure to children and families".

"We have seen an increase in the number of children being referred to social services, compared with last year, and this upward trajectory is continuing. There are more children on the child protection register and more children in care now in comparison to last year," he said.

"It is important that we respond to these changes and that is why the Department of Health has led on the development of a cross-departmental Covid-19 Vulnerable Children and Young Peoples Plan. The plan is currently out to consultation."