144 people test positive for COVID-19 as two more people die with infection

Another two people have died in NI after testing positive for COVID-19.

The two deaths did not happen in the last 24 hours, but outside that time period.

The news comes in the latest Department of Health dashboard.

They also reveal that total deaths in NI with COVID-19 now stands at 2,077.

There are now 220 people being treated for COVID-19 in NI hospitals - and 35 of that number being treated in ICU.

In the last 24 hours another 144 people tested positive for COVID-19.

That number rises to 1,224 in the last seven days.

Meanwhile there are now 18 people in NI Care Homes with COVID-19.

A hospital ward

The news comes as NI’s youngest pupils returned to school today for the first time since before the Christmas break.

Children in primary one to primary three (aged four to seven) and those in nursery and pre-school went back to class.

The plan is that they will then return to remote learning on 22 March.

However Education Minister Peter Weir said this does not make “enormous sense” and he will be pushing for children to continue in the classroom.

“The continuity of learning would be the best thing possible,” he said.

Only special schools have remained open to all pupils since the start of term in January.

Vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers have also been able to attend school and can keep doing so.