16/03/2020

NI Covid-19 Total Hits 45

The number of coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland has reached 45.

The Department of Health confirmed on Sunday that testing has resulted in 11 new positive cases in the region.

Protocols now state that people with mild symptoms- a new persistent cough and/or a fever- should self-isolate at home for seven days.

These individuals do not require testing.

Schools, colleges and universities remain open this week, despite calls that Northern Ireland follows the Republic of Ireland in implementing an immediate lockdown.

Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd urged the Education Minister to take action after it emerged that the parent of a high-risk child has taken a Judicial Review against the Department's decision to keep schools open.

John O'Dowd said: "A parent of a child who suffers from a respiratory condition has now begun the process of taking a judicial review against the decision by the Education Minister not to close schools due to the coronavirus.

"Parents worried about the safety of their children should not be put in the position where they feel they have to go to the courts to keep them safe.

"What is required now is leadership from the Education Minister and for him to act urgently and close schools."

Sinn Fein and the DUP have split on the matter.
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Education Minister Peter Weir said the time will come when schools will need to close, however they should remain open for now.

A number of special schools have closed from today, while some other mainstream schools have took the decision not to remain open.

The DUP MLA had this to say: "If we are to best protect our loved ones we need the right interventions at the right time making the most impact. I support the advice therefore of the Chief Medical Officer and the Scientific Advisory Group of Experts that now is not the time to close schools.

"The time will come when it is right from a public health point of view that schools will need to close. Schools and parents/guardians should begin to plan arrangements for that long period of closure including childcare for their children.

"The Department is continuing to work on the preparations for education moving ahead as well and is aiming to give more public health advice to schools tomorrow. In this critical time let us all keep calm heads to help save lives and try to move forward together.

"For avoidance of doubt and to provide clarity, despite some ill informed rumours, there are no plan to close schools with effect from Wednesday, and when general closures are needed to be brought in sufficient notice will be given."



(JG/CM)

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