NI Nightingale hospital to close as Covid-19 cases decline

Northern Ireland’s “Nightingale” hospital for treating Covid-19 patients is being temporarily stood down.

The facility at the City Hospital’s tower block treated 30 people in intensive care beds at the height of the first wave of virus infection, Stormont health minister Robin Swann said.

The country’s rate of infection stands at 0.79, meaning less than one person is catching it for every confirmed case.

Mr Swann added: “It was one of the key strategic tools for tackling Covid-19.

“We are not doing away with it, it will be there if we have need for it.”

Medics from around Northern Ireland were brought in to staff a dedicated hospital introduced in an effort to stop the health system from being overwhelmed.

Mr Swann added: “It is a testimony to the work that they did that we are able to bring it down.”

He said the decision was made based on the number of coronavirus cases the hospital was now dealing with.

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said reducing the health service’s escalation level will ensure it is able to respond and redeploy to non-Covid-19 cases.

Doctors would be able to deal with urgent surgeries and treatments.

Dr McBride added: “We have to undertake that gradually and cautiously.”

Ministers have also agreed a range of measures aimed at tackling clusters of infection in care homes, including drafting in extra NHS nurses.

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