NI's vaccination programme is working says CMO Dr. Michael McBride - More than 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in NI - Covid-19 can survive on clothing for up to 72 hours, study shows

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride, has confirmed he has seen early signs that suggest the vaccination scheme in Northern Ireland is driving down the rate of infection in people over the age of 60.

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CMO Dr. Michael McBride.

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Last updated: Wednesday, 24 February, 2021, 16:54

NI's vaccination programme is working says CMO Dr. Michael McBride

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride, has confirmed he has seen early signs that suggest the vaccination scheme in Northern Ireland is driving down the rate of infection in people over the age of 60.

Dr. McBride made the remarks during a Covid-19 media briefing in Stormont on Wednesday afternoon.

The CMO said the vaccination programme in Northern Ireland was also impacting on the number of Covid-19 related deaths.

Meanwhile, and at the same media briefing, Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann defended Northern Ireland’s slow pace of emergence from lockdown.

He said: “The gradual, step-by-step approach agreed collectively by the Executive was the correct one.

“Let’s remember what’s at stake here. We must not jump the gun. We must not stumble when we can see a finishing line in the distance.

“I don’t want to be back here in the spring or early summer, commenting on another Covid surge, on our hospitals filling up, on staff being exhausted and in despair. I don’t want to have to propose yet further restrictions.”

Two additional Covid related deaths and 260 new infections recorded in last 24 hours

The Department of Health (DoH) has recorded a further two Covid-19 related deaths and 260 new infections in the last 24 hours.

It takes the total number of Covid related deaths in Northern Ireland since the beginning of the pandemic last year to 2,043.

There are 356 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals across Northern Ireland.

There are 136 intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Northern Ireland and the latest data from the DoH shows 44 ICU beds were occupied by patients with Covid-19; 61 ICU beds were occupied by patients with other conditions and 31 ICU beds are unoccupied.

Covid-19 can survive on clothing for up to 72 hours, study shows

Covid-19 and other similar strains of virus can survive on clothing and transmit to other surfaces for up to 72 hours, a study has found - writes Josh Payne, PA.

Research carried out by De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester looked at how coronavirus behaves on three fabrics commonly used in the healthcare industry.

Scientists said polyester poses the highest risk for transmission, with infectious virus still present after three days that could transfer to other surfaces.

The study, led by microbiologist Dr Katie Laird, virologist Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar and postdoctoral researcher Dr Lucy Owen, involved adding droplets of a model coronavirus called HCoV-OC43 – which has a very similar structure and survival pattern to that of Sars-CoV-2 – which causes Covid-19 – to polyester, polycotton and 100% cotton.

Scientists said on 100% cotton the virus lasted for 24 hours, while on polycotton it only survived for six hours.

The university said Dr Laird advised the Government that all healthcare uniforms should be laundered in hospitals to commercial standards or by an industrial laundry.

Dr Laird, head of the Infectious Disease Research Group at DMU, said: “When the pandemic first started there was very little understanding of how long coronavirus could survive on textiles.

“Our findings show that three of the most commonly used textiles in healthcare pose a risk for transmission of the virus.

“If nurses and healthcare workers take their uniforms home, they could be leaving traces of the virus on other surfaces.”

She continued: “Once we had determined the survival rate of coronavirus on each of the textiles, we turned our attention to identifying the most reliable wash method for removing the virus.

“While we can see from the research that washing these materials at a high temperature, even in a domestic washing machine, does remove the virus, it does not eliminate the risk of the contaminated clothing leaving traces of coronavirus on other surfaces in the home or car before they are washed.

“We now know that the virus can survive for up to 72 hours on some textiles and that it can transfer to other surfaces too.

“This research has reinforced my recommendation that all healthcare uniforms should be washed on site at hospitals or at an industrial laundry.

“These wash methods are regulated and nurses and healthcare workers do not have to worry about potentially taking the virus home.”

Education Minister turned down request made by Education Committee chair Chris Lyttle MLA to give statement on reopening of schools in Assembly on Tuesday

Education Minister, Peter Weir, turned down a request made by the Chair of the Education Committee, Chris Lyttle, MLA, to give a statement in the Assembly on Tuesday on the suggestion that the Northern Ireland Executive should revisit its decision on how to reopen schools next month.

"I made the point to the Minister on Tuesday that ministry by media does children, parents and teaching staff no justice," said Mr. Lyttle.

"I asked the Minister to make a statement because it's important we provide accountability but he decided not to do so."

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “The Minister advised the Chair of the Education Committee that it was always his intention to make a Written Assembly Statement about school restart.”

Arlene Foster revisiting schools reopening remarks ‘terrible thing to be doing’ says Sinn Fein MLA and Education Committee member Pat Sheehan

Arlene Foster.

First Minister, Arlene Foster, has been accused of doing a "terrible thing" when on Monday evening she suggested revisiting the Northern Ireland Executive's decision on the reopening of schools.

Education Committee member and Sinn Fein MLA, Pat Sheehan, also accused the DUP leader of "making policy up on the hoof".

Mr. Sheehan made the comments at the start of an Education Committee meeting on Wednesday morning.

On Thursday February 18 the Northern Ireland Executive unanimously supported the decision to take a staggered approach to the reopening of schools beginning on March 8.

On Monday February 22, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that all schoolchildren in England would be returning to school at the same time on March 8.

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride confirmed yesterday that the advice he gave to the Executive that led to the adoption of a staggered approach to the reopening of schools, had not changed.

However, Arlene Foster appeared on BBC Newsline on Monday evening saying she would like to revisit the decision agreed by the Executive.

Mrs. Foster's suggestion was echoed by Education Minister Peter Weir who said he saw no reason why schools could not return at once on Monday March 8.

"The Executive met last week and came to an agreement on reopening schools," said Pat Sheehan.

"The First Minister went on a solo run and made policy up on the hoof on Monday night.

"It beggars belief that anyone would want to follow the English model given its abysmal handling of the pandemic.

"It sends out the wrong signal to parents, teachers and pupils.

"It's a terrible thing to be doing," he added.

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