NI coronavirus death toll up to 250

Northern Ireland’s coronavirus death toll has increased by 34 to 250.

This included eight deaths which occurred on Tuesday, the authorities said, as Stormont’s health minister warned the scale of the increase would cause alarm.

The remainder involved fatalities in previous days that have been added to the official record.

Stormont health minister Robin Swann said: “Today’s news underlines once again the scale of the threat from Covid-19.

“The pandemic remains a clear and present danger to us all and anyone tempted to relax their guard should think again.”

The tally of Covid-19-related deaths reported on Tuesday was 216.

Mr Swann said the virus was devastating many families across the community.

“I appreciate that this latest total will cause some alarm, given the scale of the increase from yesterday.

“These daily figures are compiled for surveillance purposes to help us track the virus and keep the public as informed as possible.

“The daily figures will always be subject to some degree of revision, as deaths will be officially registered at different times in busy hospitals.”

A weekly Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency bulletin is drawn up separately using death certificates filled out by medical professionals in which Covid-19 is mentioned.

Mr Swann said it provided a more complete picture on Covid-19-related deaths across both hospital and community settings.

He added: “I want the fullest possible information on the impact of this virus to be made public in the most timely manner possible.

“Accuracy has to receive the highest priority, so I thank officials who are working hard to make sure relevant data is captured and published.”

The Public Health Agency has said there are almost 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in nursing and residential care homes in Northern Ireland.

Mr Swann said he had expanded Covid-19 testing to include additional frontline workers.

Health chiefs have said the curve of infection is flattening but warned against people letting down their guard.