Seven deaths and 533 new cases of Covid-19 in NI

The death toll in the North now stands at 954
Seven deaths and 533 new cases of Covid-19 in NI

A further seven people with Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, according to Department of Health data.

The death toll recorded by the department now stands at 954.

There were also another 533 confirmed cases of the virus recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period.

The department’s daily dashboard said today’s infections figure may be higher than normal due to an “issue with the flow of data” on pillar two tests (lab tests carried out through the NHS nationwide programme) which saw yesterday’s figure lower than expected.

A total of 50,676 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the pandemic began.

The figures comes as the North's hospitality sector is seeking assurances from Stormont that it can reopen on December 11.

The hospitality sector, along with non-essential retail and close contact services, will close for two weeks from Friday as part of circuit-break restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus before Christmas.

The measures were announced by Stormont last week after warnings the health service could become overwhelmed if action was not taken.

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said he is writing to First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill to ask for clarity to allow businesses to plan.

“This is an extremely important part of the year for a number of reasons, but even more so this year as business owners fight to save jobs and their businesses, and reduce their crippling losses in the very short pre-Christmas trading period if it comes,” he said.

“The hospitality sector has suffered immensely this year, and the opportunity to be open and doing what they do best over Christmas would bring both a much needed morale boost and ease some of the financial pressures.” 

Mr Neill added: “If the Executive decides to make the unfortunate call to continue with the lockdown over (the) Christmas period they must make this decision now instead of the eleventh hour.

“We’ve been in situations in the last few months when decisions have been made way too late which causes huge confusion and additional financial losses within the sector. This simply cannot happen again.”

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