Coronavirus: 21 deaths and 787 cases in Northern Ireland

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Coronavirus: 21 Deaths And 787 Cases In Northern Ireland
Hospitals in the North are operating at 100 per cent capacity. Photo: PA.
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By Digital Desk Staff. Additional reporting by PA.

There have 21 further deaths of people with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the region’s department of health has said.

There have also been 787 newly confirmed cases of the virus in the last 24-hour reporting period.

12 people died with the virus in the past 24 hours, but there was a delay in reporting the other nine deaths.

Hospitals in the North are operating at 100 per cent capacity, with 451 people hospitalised with the virus and 31 in intensive care.

Sinn Féin is calling for an island-wide travel shutout to be introduced in Ireland to stem the spread of a new Covid-19 variant identified in England.

Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill has called on Micheál Martin to pursue a joined-up travel policy with the Stormont executive to prevent travel between Britain.

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Ms O’Neill insisted her stance was not politically motivated, and said her party also favoured a ban on all non-essential journeys within the island of Ireland, including cross-border trips.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also repeated calls for an all-island approach to restrictions.

The North’s health minister has expressed concern that the region was turned into a “funnel” for people travelling to the Republic from Britain, after Ireland imposed a flight ban.

It comes as the Irish Cabinet has agreed that travel restrictions between Ireland and Britain will remain in place until December 31st.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the new and more infectious strain identified in England was likely a “key factor” in the recent surge of infections seen across the Republic.

Taps running

At an emergency executive meeting on Monday night in the North, a Sinn Féin proposal to introduce a British travel ban was voted down by fellow executive ministers.

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Ministers instead issued guidance advising against non-essential travel between Northern Ireland and both Britain and the Republic. People arriving in Northern Ireland have also been urged to self-isolate for 10 days.

On Monday, DUP First Minister Arlene Foster warned of serious ramifications if a travel ban was introduced, saying the new strain of coronavirus had probably already arrived.

However, Ms O’Neill has rejected the argument that bans were not appropriate given the likelihood of the variant already being on the island.

“That’s like saying when the taps running, let it keep running, let it overflow, let it flood the bathroom,” she said.

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