22 further deaths, 705 new cases in Northern Ireland

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The deaths of another 22 people with coronavirus have been recorded in Northern Ireland.

The death toll collated by the region’s Department of Health now stands at 1,581.

On Saturday, the department also confirmed a further 705 cases of the virus.

Northern Ireland is currently in the midst of a strict six-week lockdown, with people legally obliged to stay at home and only able to venture out in a limited number of allowable circumstances.

Schools are only open for vulnerable children and those of key workers while large swathes of the hospitality, retail, leisure and entertainment sectors are closed.

Lockdown

While the infection rate of the virus has dropped significantly since the latest lockdown was introduced on St Stephen’s Day, the pressure on the region’s hospital remains intense, with admission numbers not expected to peak until later in January.

On Friday night, Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann warned that it was “highly unlikely” the restrictions will be significantly eased at the scheduled end of the lockdown on February 6th.

“It will be highly unlikely that we will see any great easement of where we currently are,” he said.

“These conversations are being had by many governments across these islands, across the world, as to what steps we can take.

“I wouldn’t want to say we will be in this format of this lockdown for another eight to 10 weeks, but will I say that we’ll go back to complete normality? No.”

As of Friday, some 133,831 coronavirus vaccinations had been administered in the region, of which 19,264 were second doses.



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