Northern Ireland news

Coronavirus: 10 deaths and 357 new cases as Queen's University launches rapid testing

"Queen's is closely monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to apply additional measures to further protect members of our community as considered necessary in discussions with the PHA"

A further 10 people with Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said.

The death toll recorded by the department now stands at 923.

There were also another 357 confirmed cases of the virus recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period.

A total of 49,442 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the pandemic began.

There are currently 429 people in hospital with coronavirus, 41 in ICU and 31 are on ventilators.

It comes as Queen’s University in Belfast launched a rapid Covid-19 testing programme for students.

Queen’s is the first place in Northern Ireland to conduct asymptomatic testing on a large scale, and the third university in the UK-wide programme.

The testing at Queen’s will support students who hope to return home for Christmas, with results expected with an hour.

Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Greer said the university was keen to be involved in the new testing interventions (NTI) programme.

“When we were approached to take part in this NTI to help inform the wider efforts, we were keen to be involved,” he said.

“We hope that the programme will help the health authorities to develop the best approach to mass testing, whilst at the same time helping us to drive down instances of the virus in our campus community and keeping it safe for our staff and students.”

Health Minister Robin Swann welcomed the university’s involvement.

“It will help us to understand how asymptomatic testing can be implemented and extended more widely in the future, to other parts of Northern Ireland,” he said.

“It is through undertaking NTIs such as this that we can develop fully informed plans for the future, which will benefit everyone in Northern Ireland.”

However Mr Swann warned that testing alone is “not a panacea” to delivering a normal festive period.

“Everyone must continue to adhere to the current restrictions and public health requirements,” he said.

“We must continue to drive down infection rates and ensure that we enter the festive period with as few new cases every day as possible.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news