Covid-19: North reports 20 more deaths as it enters six-week lockdown

Covid-19: North reports 20 more deaths as it enters six-week lockdown

Northern Ireland reported a further 20 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday as it entered a six-week lockdown to try to contain the virus.

The North’s Department of Health recorded 998 cases and 20 deaths over the past two days.

The first week of the new restrictions are the toughest yet, with a form of curfew in operation from 8pm, shops closed from that time and all indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited until 6am.

Non-essential retail will be closed throughout the next six weeks, as will close contact services.

Hospitality outlets will be limited to takeaway services.

Organised sport will be banned, with elite athletes included in the prohibition for the first week.

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Covid-19 infection rates remain high, with a more transmissible strain first discovered in southern England and London recently detected in Northern Ireland.

Stormont’s chief scientific adviser has said Northern Ireland would have witnessed thousands of Covid-19 deaths if no action had been taken to suppress coronavirus.

Prof Ian Young has said the already over-capacity health service would have been completely swamped in January.

He warned the number of Covid-19 inpatients would have soared to between 3,000 and 4,000 by the end of the month if no action had been taken.

Recently, queues of ambulances were witnessed at accident and emergency departments across Northern Ireland as patients were treated in car parks due to a lack of capacity inside hospitals.

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At one point, 17 ambulances containing patients were lined up outside the emergency department at Antrim Area Hospital. – PA

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