There have been eleven further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health today (Thursday).
Nine of those occurred in the last 24 hours with two just outside that timeframe – according to the official dashboard – which has the overall total now at 1,322.
There have been three further death in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon borough, where the total number of lives lost is now 139. The death toll in the Newry, Mourne and Down district is now 85 – up one. A total of 112 – no change – people have sadly died in the Mid Ulster region.
There were a further 1,929 cases reported in in the last 24 hours, with 311 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – the highest in NI – and a further 193 in Newry, Mourne and Down. There were 112 cases in Mid Ulster.
A total of 4,772 individuals were tested.
Over the last seven days there have been 1,160 positive cases in the ABC Borough – again, the highest in NI.
The rate of infection for 100,000 of the population remains highest in the BT60 postcode at a rate of 514.5.
There are 495 – up three from yesterday – people now in hospital as a result of the virus, 34 of whom are in intensive care units.
There are currently 26 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.
Seventy-nine – down two – patients are in Craigavon. To date, 735 patients have been discharged from the Co. Armagh hospital.
There are 18 – down three – Covid patients in Daisy Hill, with nine –down one – in Lurgan Hospital.
Meanwhile, the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in Northern Ireland will begin on Monday, the chief medical officer has confirmed.
Dr Michael McBride said an initial batch of 50,000 doses would be rolled out to GP practices on Monday.
“The GP programme will run alongside the ongoing vaccination programme and will prioritise those over 80 initially but will quickly work down through the priority groups recommended for vaccination by JCVI (Joint Committee on vaccination and Immunisation),” he said.
“JCVI have now recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority.
“The four UK chief medical officers agree with JCVI that prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible will deliver the greatest benefit in the shortest possible time.
“First and foremost, we must act to protect those most at risk of severe disease and death. The evidence shows that the initial dose of vaccine offers as much as 70% protection against the effects of the virus.
“Providing that level of protection on a large scale will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality and hospitalisations, protecting the health and social care system. It is the right thing to do for the public health.”