No new Covid-19 deaths announced in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland reported no further coronavirus-linked deaths on Sunday.

The death toll recorded by the region’s Department of Health remains at 545.

There were four new cases confirmed through tests conducted in health trust labs in the region, taking the total recorded by the labs since the outbreak began to 4,870.

The four new cases came a day after the labs reported no new confirmed cases of coronavirus for the first time since lockdown.

The daily update from the Department of Health on Saturday revealed there were no positive results in the 995 tests analysed in their labs through Friday.

It was the first day since March that no new positive tests had been reported in a 24-hour period by health trust labs across the region.

The daily Department of Health Covid-19 dashboard records all test samples analysed in health trust labs.

The figures do not include samples taken in drive-in National Testing Centres, which are analysed through a UK-wide NHS arrangement involving private laboratories.

Deaths announced by the Department of Health are those involving a confirmed case of Covid-19 and mostly focus on fatalities within hospitals.

The actual number of deaths linked to Covid-19 in the region is significantly greater than 545, as many have occurred outside a hospital setting, in care homes and domestic dwellings.

The most up-to-date overall figure, including confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases in all settings, stood at 802 for the week ending June 12.

The comparative Department of Health figure on that day was 540.

Robin Swann
Robin Swann has said the virus had been forced into retreat (Presseye/PA)

Commenting on Saturday on the low infection rate, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “We continue to make significant progress in forcing the virus into retreat.

“This is due to a massive collective effort by people across Northern Ireland. It is vital that we all maintain this progress and keep following public health advice on social distancing and washing our hands.”

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride cautioned against complacency.

“Covid-19 remains a very real threat and now is not the time to drop guard,” he said.

“I urge everyone to keep doing the right thing in terms of hand hygiene and social distancing. Please stay safe and save lives.”

The suppression of the virus in the region has prompted Stormont ministers to quicken Northern Ireland’s exit out of lockdown.

From June 26, caravan parks, campsites and self-contained tourist accommodation will be able to reopen.

A week later on July 3, hotels, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, pubs and bars will be able to welcome customers back.

Church services are set to resume on June 29 while a provisional date for hair salons, barbers and nail bars to reopen has been set for July 6.

Guidance advising people in high-risk categories to shield indoors is to be paused at the end of July.

Stormont ministers have also announced plans for childcare services to start to look after more children over the summer.

They are also seeking to maximise the number of children who can return to school on a full-time basis in the autumn by reducing the social distancing measure for pupils from two to one metres.

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