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Health Minister urges united front against Covid-19

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Health Minister Robin Swann has urged people across Northern Ireland to “dig in and get through winter together”.

Today’s Covid-19 dashboard figures show 820 individuals have tested positive.

The Minister said: “I know the people of Northern Ireland will join with me in expressing my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have passed away.

“Unfortunately, the predictions that were made about the increase in cases and the consequences this will bring are coming true.

“This is undoubtedly a public health emergency. The response challenges every aspect of our society and our sense of community: it requires us to reduce our contacts with each other, to keep our distance; it has the potential to seriously damage livelihoods and life opportunities. If we continue to stand together, we can prevent the worst. We can help so many individuals and families right across all walks of life who are having a very difficult time.

“This is a time for a united front across our entire community. We must not be distracted or deflected from what we all have to do. If we strictly follow public health advice and restrictions, we can push infection rates down. We can protect each other and the health service. We can and we will limit the damage to our communities, our society and our economy.

“The people of Northern Ireland are resilient and I know we can dig in and get through this winter together. We have been through tough times before. We are at our best when we stick together. There will be better times ahead.”

Mr Swann acknowledged that the restrictions on daily lives introduced by the Executive last Friday are extremely challenging.

“Decisive action had to be taken and I know other jurisdictions are wrestling with similar issues.

“The virus spreads through close contacts between people. Restricting our contacts is a proven method of breaking chains of transmission. It is not a solution, but it will reduce infections and save lives – and buy some essential breathing space for our health service.

“The success of the measures will depend on the extent to which we all play our part. It is vital that we cut down our contacts and keep our distance from each other, wear a face covering and wash our hands thoroughly and often. Please also download the StopCOVID NI app if you have not already done so.”

The Health Minister said the Executive’s measures are proportionate and well founded.

“My Department provided the Executive with detailed scientific and medical assessments over recent weeks, underpinning the need for decisive interventions to counter the growing spread of the virus. These assessments reflected evidence amassed by SAGE, evidence which is now in the public domain.

“It was entirely appropriate for the Executive to assess the health advice alongside the potential implications for the economy and society as a whole.

“These are very difficult decisions and I am pleased that we were able to agree a way forward together last week.”

The Department of Health publishes significant levels of data on a daily basis on its Covid-19 dashboard. This has now been expanded to include postcode data.

“The dashboard provides the most compelling evidence for the action the Executive has taken – rapidly growing numbers of people infected, in hospital and in intensive care.” Mr Swann added.

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