There have been five further Covid-19 linked deaths reported in the last 24-hour reporting period in Northern Ireland and 1,039 new cases of the virus, the Department of Health has announced.
The death toll recorded by the department now stands at 629.
There have been 29,992 confirmed cases, 6,791 in the last seven days.
There are currently 289 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospital with 32 in intensive care.
Stormont’s chief scientist has defended the evidence base that guided ministerial decisions to close down sections of Northern Ireland’s economy.
The closure of a range of businesses has been questioned after it emerged ministers were advised the move would have a low to moderate impact on infection rates but a high economic impact on workers.
The scientific paper estimated the closure of hairdressers and beauticians could reduce the virus’s reproduction number (R number) by 0.05. while the closure of pubs and restaurants could decrease R by between 0.1 to 0.2.
Chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young said the numbers might appear small but such incremental reductions could make an “enormous difference”.
When R is above one the prevalence of the virus will continue to increase; when it falls below one, Covid-19 rates will begin to fall.
Prof Young highlighted that R is currently around 1.4 in Northern Ireland and the aim of the current four-week circuit-break is to reduce the number by 0.5, to below one. In that context, 0.05 is 10% of the R reduction ministers are trying to achieve and 0.2 is 40%.