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Nine more Covid-related deaths as Minister confirms financial help for ‘non-essential retailers’

'Businesses which are now forced to close or severely limit their operations as a result of the increased health protection regulations will now be able to apply to the scheme'

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There have been nine further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health today (Saturday).

Eight of these occurred in the last 24 hours, with one outside that timeframe – according to the official dashboard – which has the overall total now at 983.

There has been one further deaths in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon borough, where the total number of lives lost is now 107. There has also been one additional death in the Newry, Mourne and Down district, where the total stands at 62.

There were a further 315 cases reported in that timeframe, with 36 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon and a further 28 in Newry, Mourne and Down, each area up two from yesterday.

A total of 2,257 individuals were tested.

There are 410 people now in hospital – that’s 15 less than yesterday – as a result of the virus, 33 of whom are in intensive care units – down four from yesterday.

There are currently 16 ICU beds available in NI – one less than yesterday.

Forty-two patients are in Craigavon today – seven less than yesterday. To date, 608 patients have been discharged from the Co. Armagh hospital.

There are six Covid patients in Daisy Hill, with 10 in Lurgan Hospital.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Conor Murphy has confirmed financial assistance is available for non-essential retail and other businesses now impacted by the latest regulations which came into place on Friday.

The Department of Finance’s Localised Restrictions Support Scheme provides support to businesses which have been required to close or have had business activity at their premises directly curtailed.

The application process is now open for these additional businesses on the nibusinessinfo website at: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/LocalisedRestrictionsSupport.

Announcing the extension, Minister Murphy said: “The Executive is committed to supporting businesses during this hugely challenging time.

“So far £22.67million of payments have issued to over 6,000 businesses with over 70% of applications to the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme having now been processed.

“Businesses which are now forced to close or severely limit their operations as a result of the increased health protection regulations will now be able to apply to the scheme.”

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