Northern Ireland news

Minister Nichola Mallon 'not feeling too bad' after testing positive for Covid

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon is self-isolating after contracting Covid-19. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Paul Ainsworth

STORMONT Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has said she will work remotely after testing positive for Covid-19.

The SDLP minister revealed she had contracted the virus in a tweet yesterday.

It comes just days after she criticised Sinn Féin and DUP Executive colleagues after details of plans to end Covid restrictions were leaked to the media.

Ms Mallon said she read reports of the planned restriction easing in the press before she had received any Executive papers on the move.

Last Thursday the Executive announced a swathe of relaxations of the restrictions.

From Friday rules on table service in pubs and restaurants were relaxed and the requirement to prove exemptions on wearing face masks was removed.

From this Wednesday nightclubs will be able to reopen and Covid certification will no longer be required to enter pubs, restaurants or cinemas.

Health Minister Robin Swann said he is cautiously optimistic about Covid-19.

Ministers are set to consider the remaining restrictions on February 10.

There has also been a sweeping relaxation of Covid rules in the Republic in recent days.

The moves announced by the government on Friday evening came into effect at 6am on Saturday.

An 8pm curfew on the hospitality sector has gone, with pubs and restaurants able to trade restriction-free and without the need for social distancing.

Taking to Twitter yesterday Ms Mallon said: "I've tested positive for Covid-19 & am now in isolation.

"Not feeling too bad thanks to my vaccinations. I hope to move my legislation tomorrow remotely and continue my Ministerial duties as well as my MLA commitments for the people of North Belfast working remotely from home."

Among those responding to the minister's tweet was Sinn Féin deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill, who wrote: "Get well soon Nichola, I hope you stay well."

Ms O'Neill isolated for a period last August and into September after revealing she had contracted the virus.

Well-wishes were also made to Ms Mallon by Alliance North Down MP Stephen Farry, UUP MLA Robbie Butler and DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley, among others.

It came as latest figures showed there were five Covid-19-related deaths reported in Northern Ireland yesterday.

The total number of deaths linked to the virus since the start of the pandemic is 3,072.

Another 3,059 cases of coronavirus were reported yesterday, down from 3,476 cases on Saturday.

The Department of Health does not publish data relating to Covid-19 patients in hospitals on weekends.

On Friday there were 398 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals, up from 402 on Thursday.

There were 24 patients with Covid-19 in hospital intensive care units, the same number as on Thursday.

In the Republic a further 4,731 cases of Covid-19 were recorded on Saturday.

As of yesterday morning, there were 845 hospital inpatients, with 79 in intensive care.

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