There were 26 further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health today (Friday).
Today’s stats – according to the official dashboard – take in the last 24 hours with 21 of the five passing away inside that period.
The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department now stands at 1,559.
There were a further 1,052 positive cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 223 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – the highest in NI – and a further 119 in Newry, Mourne and Down. There were 115 cases in Mid Ulster.
A total of 4,135 individuals were tested.
There are 840 people now in hospital as a result of the virus, 63 of whom are in intensive care units.
There are currently 30 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.
A total of 236 – down 11 – Covid patients are currently in hospitals in the Southern Trust area; 167 in Craigavon; 50 in Daisy Hill; 17 in Lurgan and two in South Tyrone.
It comes as Chief Medical Officers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland voice their concerns about the high levels of Covid-19.
In a joint statement, Chief Medical Officers Dr Michael McBride and Dr Tony Holohan, said: “As CMOs, we are gravely concerned about the unsustainably high level of Covid-19 infection we are experiencing on the island of Ireland. This is having a significant impact on the health of our population and the safe functioning of our healthcare systems.
“Unfortunately, due to the surge of infections we have experienced over the past few weeks, we have seen an increase in mortality figures and our health systems have been placed under immense pressure. We are likely to see ongoing increases in hospitalisations, ICU admissions and mortality in the weeks ahead.”
Both CMOs are strongly urging everyone to stay at home except for essential reasons, and to avoid all unnecessary journeys, including cross-border travel.
They said: “Many of the patients admitted to hospital in January have been under the age of 65 years. Covid-19 can affect us all, regardless of age or underlying condition. It highlights the need for us all to protect one another by staying at home. Not only will you keep yourself and your loved ones safe, but also help to save lives and avoid more preventable Covid-19 admissions to our currently struggling healthcare systems.
“We will continue to work together to protect public health across the island, as we have done throughout this pandemic, but we need everyone to play their part by staying at home and protecting themselves and their communities.”