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Coronavirus: ‘Embrace spirit of Northern Ireland’ to fight virus

ARlene Foster

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Arlene Foster said the executive is united as it combats the coronavirus outbreak.

The first minister has said she is asking people to “embrace the spirit of Northern Ireland and work together” to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

She said the Northern Ireland Executive is united as it combats the coronavirus outbreak.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the priority of every executive decision is to save lives.

The first coronavirus-related death in Northern Ireland was confirmed on Thursday.

Speaking on Good Morning Ulster on Friday morning, Mrs Foster said: “This is so much bigger than about Britishness or Irishness, unionism or nationalism, orange or green – this is not what this is about.”

“This is about giving hope to people that this will end, making sure that when it does end we come out the other side.”

She said that it may come to the point where more stringent measures are needed in Northern Ireland.

“We’re not at that point yet and it’s important that we’re led by the science in all of this.

“I know it’s very counterintuitive for people to hear me talking about that, they think ‘why don’t we do it now’.

“But it is about trying to flatten the peak.”

‘Uphill struggle’

Speaking on the same programme, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said Northern Ireland is facing the “challenge of a generation”.

“I’m a daughter, I’m a mummy and we all understand the fear and concern – my own mummy has underlying health conditions,” she said.

“So what I want for everybody else is what I want for my own family.

“Every decision that we take has only that one priority, which is to save lives.”

She added: “We’re in for an uphill struggle, to say the least, in the time ahead so it’s important that we’re joined up and we try to provide the answer to the questions that people have.”

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Health Minister Robin Swann has reached out to manufacturers across Northern Ireland to help produce more ventilators

On Thursday night, Health Minister Robin Swann has said he has reached out to manufacturers across Northern Ireland to help produce more ventilators.

Concerns have been raised that there are not enough to treat the number of people officials believe could fall seriously ill because of coronavirus.

There have been 77 positive cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland so far.

The Department of Health said that in the case of an 80% infection rate, the NI death toll could be in the region of 14,000.

It was also announced that 40 additional mechanical ventilators (30 adult units and 10 paediatric units) have been ordered bringing the total available in Northern Ireland to 179 by the end of March.

However, speaking on The View on Thursday night, Mr Swann said he and officials had “reached out in the past week, through Invest NI, to those manufacturers who can actually step up, retool and produce ventilators, and help us in that style”.

Tests for self-isolating healthcare workers

“So we are stepping up, we’re ramping up.

“What we’ve actually done today is reach out to the private sector in Northern Ireland to make sure we have their capacity captured as well.”

Speaking on the same programme, Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said testing for the coronavirus is being extended to healthcare workers in self-isolation.

He said that, up until now, testing had been reserved for people in hospital.

“We will be making announcements about further enhancements in our capacity to provide those tests next week,” he added.

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