The reproduction rate of Covid-19 has been reduced to “between 0.7 and 0.9” here, First Minister Arlene Foster has said this evening.
The country has been in lockdown since Boxing Day, December 26 in a bid to reduce the infection rate in the community.
Derry and Strabane is now into its third lockdown – it went into a second lockdown on October 5 after a huge spike in cases.
On Thursday, the Department of Health reported that in the past 24 hours a further 16 deaths and 973 new cases, a fall of 199 cases reported for Tuesday.
The DUP leader has told a media briefing in Dungannon this evening: “Together over this last number of weeks we’ve been able to break pathways of transmission and to slow the spread of the deadly virus in our community.
The case doubling rate in NI is now 55.5 days, the first minister added.
She said the UK average is 39 days.
Mrs Foster said that as of yesterday, 102,701 people have been vaccinated in the North of Ireland against Covid-19.
In 467 of 483 care homes, residents have received their first dose, while in 72% of care homes a second dose has been administered.
Reflecting on progress in driving down the transmission rate of the virus in NI, Mrs Foster said: “This success, important as it is, does not alter the scale of the challenge that is ahead of us.
“What it does do is it gives us time, time for us to push ahead with our strategy to protect you and your loved ones.”
She described the UK’s vaccination and testing programmes as “world-class”.
At the joint press conference, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill praised the team behind the North of Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. She says nearly five percent of the population have now been vaccinated.“We have teams of people working seven days a week and I want to commend them,” she said.
She added that 97 per cent of care home residents have been vaccinated with their first dose and 72 percent have received their second dose.
“I think that’s really remarkable,” added the Sinn Fein vice president.
First Minister Foster said she found it “incredible” and “frankly unbelievable” that some people continue to host house parties and social gatherings “at this time”.
She said other people are “fighting hard to give everybody a chance to live”.
Mrs Foster said police have a role to “inform and encourage the public” to adhere to the rules and regulations.
She says officers also have a role to put a stop to “reckless behaviour”.
PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said that since the start of the pandemic, his officers have issued on average 40 penalty notices each day to people breaking the Coronavirus regulations.Tags: