Easing out of NI lockdown will help prevent a future one – Robin Swann

Northern Ireland’s health minister has said a gradual emergence from lockdown may prevent a future one.

By Rebecca Black, PA
Friday, 19th February 2021, 10:34 am
Updated Friday, 19th February 2021, 10:35 am

Robin Swann was speaking after the announcement that lockdown measures will remain in place across the region until April.

Read More

Read More
NI Covid death-toll surges to 2,691 after 68 deaths recorded in one week

“The figures are moving in the right direction but they started from a very high point this time round and that’s the challenge that we face in the health service,” he told the BBC.

Health Minister, Robin Swann.

“We are still supporting more inpatients with Covid today than we were at the peak of the first wave so there would be no point in saying where we will be in a number of weeks time.

“That’s why the Executive builds in regular reviews so we can take stock and take into account where we see the number of inpatients, where we see the transmissibility of the virus, and taking into account new variants as well.”

Some primary school pupils will return to class on March 8.

P1 to P3 children will be the first to return for three weeks, with the impact of that on the pandemic to be watched closely.

“From a health point of view, it’s about seeing a cohort returning for three weeks and allowing us to assess what impact that has had on transmissibility and the R number,” Mr Swann said.

“In regards to which cohorts come back for which period of time, that was very much coming from an educationalist point of view, it’s not something that we were getting involved in.”

Mr Swann said there is a realisation around the Executive table and across Northern Ireland that a measured approach in coming out of lockdown may prevent a future return to lockdown.

“The last thing that anyone round the Executive table, or anyone across Northern Ireland, wants to do is rush out of this lockdown and see us rushing into another one in a few months time,” he added.

The Executive is set to publish a road map out of lockdown on March 1.

On Thursday, ministers agreed some minor relaxations.

On March 8, the numbers able to gather outdoors will increase from six to 10, from no more than two households, and “click and collect” shopping is to be allowed from some outlets previously categorised as non-essential retailers.

---

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe

Editor