By Peter Moor
5 new deaths from COVID-19 have been announced in Northern Ireland, according to new data from the Department of Health.
4 of these deaths have occurred since yesterday.
494 people have now died in Northern Ireland from the virus.
A total of 4,439 people have tested positive for Coronavirus in the region, after a further 18 new cases were confirmed.
BREAKING: New figures from @healthdpt— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) May 20, 2020
📍5 new deaths from COVID-19 in NI
📍4 of these have happened since yesterday
📍494 have now died from the virus here
📍18 new cases of COVID-19 bringing total cases to 4,439
📍104 care homes have confirmed/suspected outbreaks of COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/uV25HajQHJ
The data from the Department of Health dashboard also revealed 70 care homes currently have confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19.
34 care homes have suspected outbreaks and 35 have closed outbreaks of the virus.
On Tuesday the Health Minister, Robin Swann, said 40% of care home residents have been tested.
Mr Swann said, "Whilst we are by no means through the storm, the situation in our care homes has greatly stabilised, especially when compared to the ongoing situation in care homes across the rest of the United Kingdom," he said.
Speaking today at Stormont, the Chief Medical Officer, Michael McBride defended his record on care homes:
The figures also provide detail of capacity in Northern Ireland's hospitals.
It revealed that out of Northern Ireland's 110 intensive care unit beds, 18 are occupied by patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
Another 57 of the beds are taken up by non COVID-19 related patients, providing 35 spare ICU beds.
Robin Swann says 284 members of health staff in Northern Ireland are absent due to positive COVID-19 tests - that's 0.4% of the workforce.— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) May 20, 2020
He adds that 2.5% of staff are self-isolating. pic.twitter.com/Wa1vziFZz5