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No further Covid-related deaths but case numbers rise and Craigavon sees return of virus patients

There have been no further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland today (Thursday).

That’s according to the official dashboard, where the overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department stands at 2,154.

The Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area accounts for 285 deaths overall. Newry, Mourne and Down District accounts for 167 deaths while Mid-Ulster has registered 206 deaths.

There were a further 109 positive cases reported in the last 24 hours with 15 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon. There were 13 in Newry, Mourne and Down while Mid-Ulster District recorded 10.

A total of 2,562 individuals were tested.

There are 19 people in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus, none of whom are in an intensive care unit.

There is now three Covid patient in the Southern Trust area, two of whom are in Craigavon Area Hospital.

There are currently 15 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the interval between doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines is to be reduced to a maximum of eight weeks.

This will accelerate the vaccination programme as it moves into its final phase and will ensure that people across Northern Ireland have the strongest possible protection from variants of the Covid-19 virus.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “We have taken the decision to reduce the interval between vaccine doses following updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) who have considered the latest available evidence on the Delta (B1.617.2) variant which was first identified in India.

They have recommended reducing the dosing interval to help protect the community from the increasing prevalence of this variant and others that may arise. It’s vital that we move as quickly as possible, with the supplies of vaccine that we have available, to ensure that the maximum number of people receive both doses so that they have fuller and longer lasting protection against the virus.

It’s vital we do everything we can and use every resource we have to ensure we continue to keep people safe. We have implemented measures at record pace to get on top of new variants and control their spread.

“The tremendous success of our vaccination programme in Northern Ireland means that we are ahead of schedule, with more than 734,000 people already having received their second dose. We’ve come a long way on our journey through the pandemic and the quicker we can get our citizens fully vaccinated, the quicker we will be able to move back to a more normal way of life.”

For those who have not yet been vaccinated, appointments for second doses will be scheduled no more than eight weeks after the first dose. For those who have already received their first dose, scheduled appointments for second doses will remain unaffected and people should keep the date they have been given. There is no need to contact the health service as there will be no change to your arrangements.

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