Northern Ireland can access furlough scheme if further lockdown needed, Boris Johnson says
Northern Ireland can access the British Government's furlough scheme if it has to introduce lockdown measures at a different time from England, Boris Johnson said.
The prime minister told MPs the NHS faced an "existential threat" from Covid-19.
The South Eastern Health Trust, which includes the Ulster Hospital, said it had the highest number of Covid positive patients to date and was operating at 111% capacity.
SNP MP Drew Hendry asked the prime minister: "So can he sort that now - if Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland needs to introduce lockdown measures at different times to England, will the Chancellor be there to support us with furlough?"
Mr Johnson replied: "I really think... yes... I really think... I don't know how to exhaust my affirmative vocabulary any further.
"They won't take yes for an answer."
Furlough is the British Government's jobs support scheme and means the Treasury paying 80% of employee salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
England enters lockdown tomorrow.
There have been 10 further Covid-19-linked deaths in Northern Ireland and 679 new cases of the virus, the Department of Health said.
The death toll stands at 740.
There have been 40,858 confirmed cases, including 4,498 in the last seven days.
Some 418 patients with Covid-19 are being treated in hospital, with 50 in intensive care.
The occupancy rate at hospitals is 101%.
There are 120 active outbreaks at care homes.