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Covid-19: ICU numbers drop to single figures as calls are made to resist end of free testing

Craigavon Area Hospital

There have been five further Covid-related deaths reported in Northern Ireland in the latest 24 hours.

The total number of deaths now stands at 3,189 – 24 of which occurred in the last seven days, according to the Department of Health’s daily dashboard.

The Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon borough has recorded 429 deaths to date; five in the last seven days.

There have been 244 deaths in the Newry Mourne and Down district, three of which occurred in the past seven days, while Mid Ulster accounts for 299 deaths, none of which have occurred in the past seven days.

There were 2,951 – up from 2,235 on Monday – positive cases in the last 24 hours.

There have been 17,091 positive cases in the last seven days, which remains on a downward trajectory.

Within the past 24 hours, there were 245 positive cases in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – the sixth highest in NI.

There were 270 cases in Newry, Mourne and Down (fifth highest) while Mid Ulster recorded 208. Belfast – the highest in NI – recorded 585 positive cases.

There are 495 – up from 443 on Monday – patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus.

There are currently 127 – up from 118 – Covid patients in Southern Trust hospitals, 57 of whom are in Craigavon Area Hospital. There are 16 in Newry’s Daisy Hill Hospital. There are 37 in South Tyrone Hospital.

There are nine – down from 12 – patients with Covid-19 in hospital intensive care units. There are currently 12 ICU beds available.

Hospital capacity currently sits at 107% – up 2% in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Council Group Leader, Liam Mackle, has expressed concern at the possible end to free Covid testing.

“Boris Johnson’s plans to end free Covid-19 testing in England is irresponsible and must not impact on testing here,” said Councillor Mackle.

“This is in line with the reckless approach adopted by the Tories throughout the pandemic.

“It is important that at this point in the pandemic we maintain protections from the virus, particularly for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Ending free testing and putting the costs on ordinary people who are already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis will act as a deterrent to people getting tested and could see an increase in the spread of the virus.

“It’s crucial that we take independent, considered and sensible decisions so that we can safely reopen society for everyone.

“Sinn Féin have asked the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer to come before the health committee to set out their views on testing and the safest exit from the pandemic.”

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