COVID-19 update - R number in NI now stands between 0.7-0.9

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill

By PA reporter

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster said the reproductive rate of the virus has declined to 0.7-0.9 in Northern Ireland.

She added: “We have been able to break the pathways of transmission.”

More than 102,000 people have been vaccinated.

Three quarters of care homes have had second doses.

Location of passengers who arrive from the Irish Republic is to be raised with the Taoiseach, Mrs Foster added.

Arlene Foster said the number of hospital admissions was due to peak later this week or early next week.

Intensive care unit admissions will continue rising for another week or so.

The DUP leader added: “We are all now partners in protecting people and preventing a greater loss of life.

“I find it unbelievable that people are still holding house parties when the rest of us are fighting hard to give the rest of us a chance to live.”

Stormont ministers want to discuss travel locator forms with the Irish Government and improve sharing of information.

Arlene Foster said quite a large number may have entered Northern Ireland via the Republic over Christmas.

“That does not equip us to deal with the isolation issue,” the First Minister said.

Mrs Foster said sharing information left everyone in a better place to deal with emerging issues such as virus mutations, pointing to one detected recently in Brazil. “We need to be ready to deal with all of these issues,” she added.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “It has to happen as a matter of urgency and I regret that it has not happened before now.”

The pre-departure test discussed by Stormont ministers will need to be taken within 72 hours.

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne also said penalty notices were being issued daily to those who “blatantly” wanted to ignore the coronavirus regulations.

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