Live'Higher risk of hospitalisation' with Delta variant means no end in sight in NI for social distancing and face coverings

Health Minister, Robin Swann, says because of the spread of the Delta variant he is unable to say when Northern Ireland will be able to do away with social distancing and face coverings.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th June 2021, 6:34 pm

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Health Minister, Robin Swann.
Health Minister, Robin Swann.

LIVE UPDATES: Covid-19 - ‘Higher risk of hospitalisation’ with Delta variant means no end in sight in NI for social distancing and face coverings

Last updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2021, 16:27

‘Higher risk of hospitalisation’ with Delta variant means no end in sight in NI for social distancing and face coverings

An Executive paper from Health Minister Robin Swann to his ministerial colleagues has said Northern Ireland is “not yet at a point where we can set a date for an end to social distancing”.

The Executive met on Thursday to discuss further relaxations of Covid restrictions.

In his paper, Mr Swann said the progress of the Delta variant provides “grounds for concern”.

He added: “We are not yet at the point where we can set a date for an end to social distancing, the use of face coverings or the other public health measures that have been so important throughout the pandemic. Normality, as we knew it in 2019, is still some way off.

“While the number of confirmed cases of the Delta variant remain small, the evidence from Great Britain indicates that this could change very rapidly. Testing in the last few days has indicated that up to 25% of new cases here may be Delta variant.”

In his Executive paper, Robin Swann also said the Delta variant was associated with a higher risk of hospital admission.

He added: “In the event of the Delta variant becoming dominant, modelling indicates the potential for a significant fresh surge of positive cases and hospitalisations by late summer/early autumn.

“It needs to be emphasised that this is by no means inevitable. Modelling is not a prediction and there are many uncertainties in every potential scenario.

“It is essential that good levels of adherence to public health advice are maintained, alongside take-up of first and second vaccine doses.”

NI primary school closed to all students and staff after new Covid-19 infections detected

A Northern Ireland primary school will remain closed to all staff and pupils for the rest of the week after new Covid-19 infections were detected.

The principal of Kilkeel Primary School wrote to parents on Wednesday explaining why the school would be closed.

“I have received confirmation of 3 more positive cases linked to our school community,” Principal Helena McCabe.

“Close contacts have already been notified and further information from the PHA will be issued to those families as soon as possible.

“In conjunction with the Chair of the Board of Governors, we have taken the decision to revert back to remote learning via Class Dojo for the remainder of this week – Thursday 10th and Friday 11th June 2021.

“During this time, the school will be closed to all pupils and staff and will undergo an enhanced clean.

“I apologise for the late notice and added inconvenience, but ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our pupils and staff is paramount.”

The letter does not say whether the school will reopen on Monday.

These are the 40 NI postcode areas with highest number of new Covid-19 infections in the last seven days

Concern over spread of Delta variant but Department of Health says it is unable to brief health committee until Monday at earliest

The Stormont Health Committee has agreed to submit an urgent question after the Department of Health (DoH) said it could not update the committee on the spread of the Delta variant in Northern Ireland until Monday at the earliest.

The issue was raised by Sinn Fein MLA and Health Committee Chair, Colin Gildernew.

Mr. Gildernew’s concerns were echoed by MLAs from all the parties that make up the Northern Ireland Executive.

It has been reported that there could be more than 80 cases of the Delta variant in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland health authorities are due to provide an update on the spread of the variant later today.

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