Northern Ireland reports 600 new Covid cases and one more virus-linked death
There were 605 positive cases of Covid reported in Northern Ireland yesterday.
The Department of Health said that the figures related to the 24 hours until Sunday.
In that period, there was one further coronavirus-linked death.
To date 2,122,962 vaccines have been administered in the Province.
In England, moving to Step 4 – the final stage of reopening – has been delayed by four weeks until next week to ensure all adults had been offered a vaccine.
As of Friday 80.3 million vaccine doses have been administered in the UK, with 45.7 million adults receiving a first dose (86.9%) and 34.5 million adults receiving both doses (65.6%).
Analysis from Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Cambridge suggests that vaccines have so far prevented an estimated 8.5 million infections and 30,000 deaths in England alone.
Boris Johnson has said England is “tantalisingly close” to lifting the final swathe of coronavirus restrictions as he prepares to say this afternoon that the country can move to Step 4 of the road map to lift measures but also warn that Covid-19 cases will rise as rules designed to suppress the virus are removed.
Meanwhile, mask-wearing will still be “expected” in enclosed spaces in England after July 19, the vaccines minister has said.
The government has come under criticism for removing the mandatory wearing of face masks in the next stage of restrictions, expected today.
Sixteen health charities have urged ministers to support around 500,000 people for whom the Covid vaccines may give less protection, and 120 scientists and doctors signed a letter in The Lancet accusing the UK government of conducting a “dangerous” experiment and urging it to rethink abandoning of curbs.
But Nadhim Zahawi told ‘Trevor Phillips On Sunday’ on Sky News: “I think it’s important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we’ll set out tomorrow will demonstrate that, including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces.”
In the Republic of Ireland, its Health Service Executive chief executive Paul Reid said the hospital system is very busy due to the backlog caused by the pandemic.
Mr Reid told RTE: “We are planning to utilise antigen testing for outbreaks where they are very well proven and potentially also for close contacts, and indeed in the UK there are elements of self-swabbing in centres so we are looking at a whole range of initiatives.”
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