Northern Ireland Executive Ministers and their officials have over the past 24 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.
The First Minister Arlene Foster and the deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill took part in a COBR conference call with the UK Government and other devolved administrations to discuss the current Covid-19 situation.
The call took place as the First Minister and the deputy First Minister urged members of the public not to relax their guard after Easter in the effort to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The First Minister said: “We are still in the middle of the first wave of Covid-19 cases and we should be focussing on doing everything we can right now to reduce its peak. If we relax our guard now, all will have been in vain. Please stay at home as much as possible. Do not undertake non-essential travel. Exercise outdoors, once a day, close to home. By following that advice, you will relieve the pressure on our health service and you will save lives.”
The deputy First Minister added: “Lives are being saved because of these measures. Lives are being saved because you are staying at home. We know it is not easy but now is the time to dig in. This is time to stay strong and this is the time to stay at home and save lives.”
Health Minister Robin Swann highlighted a new volunteer-led service to deliver medicines to patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The temporary service to support community pharmacies is available through the Community Development and Health Network and caters for those people unable to leave their home or are self-isolating and who do not have a family member, friend or local support network to get their medicines.
Welcoming the service, Minister Swann observed: “This new network of volunteers will ensure that all patients will continue to get their medicines. We have already seen an excellent response from all sections of society to help the fightback against Covid-19.
“This is another excellent example of voluntary action helping those in need and I commend the CDHN and the HSCB in delivering this.”
Justice Minister Naomi Long flagged up services that are available for victims of domestic abuse if needed during the Covid-19 emergency.
Noting home was not always the safest place for victims of domestic and sexual abuse, Minister Long said help was available through the 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline on 0808 802 1414 and could also be sought via the web and instant message.
“If you need to ring the PSNI but are too scared to speak, the ‘silent solution’ means you can call 999 and press 55 when prompted. This lets police know it is a genuine emergency,” the Minister added.
Education Minister Peter Weir thanked those with an education background who have volunteered to give urgent assistance to those schools supervising the care of vulnerable children and the children of key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Appealing to those who may be able to assist but have not volunteered, Minister Weir said they could still complete an application form on the Department of Education’s website.
He added: “I cannot stress enough how valuable your contribution will be, not only to our schools, but to society as a whole. To those who volunteer and to those who may not be called to help but still took the time to register their interest, I want to thank you all once again for your dedication and support in these very difficult times.”