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Further 18 Covid-related deaths; hospital numbers jump and pupils in NI likely to remain off school until mid-February

There were 18 further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health today (Tuesday).

Today’s stats – according to the official dashboard – takes in the last 24 hours with 11 inside that period and a further seven recorded outside that timeframe.

The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department now stands at 1,384.

There were a further 1,378 cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 171 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon and a further 241 – highest in NI – in Newry, Mourne and Down. There were 140 cases in Mid Ulster.

A total of 4,126 individuals were tested.

Over the last seven days there have been 1,913 positive cases in the ABC Borough – the highest in Northern Ireland. There have been 1,546 in Newry, Mourne and Down, and 1,372 in Mid Ulster.

The infection rate (per 100k) remains highest in the BT60 postcode.

There are 577 – up 64 – people now in hospital as a result of the virus, 45 – up six – of whom are in intensive care units.

There are currently 15 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland. Hospitals are now operating at 101% of their capacity.

Ninety-one – down one – patients are in Craigavon. To date, 780 patients have been discharged from the Co. Armagh hospital.

There are 24 – up one – Covid patient in Daisy Hill, with 12 – up three – in Lurgan Hospital.

Meanwhile, the BBC is reporting that pupils in Northern Ireland will not be returning to school until after the half-term break in mid-February.

The Executive is meeting today in order to discuss Covid-19 restrictions and arrangements for schools, with the Department for Education proposing a switch to remote learning for a prolonged period, similar to what was announced for England, by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, last night.

It comes as post-primary transfer tests were cancelled just days before thousands of pupils were due to sit the first of a set of exams.

The tests are used to select pupils by the majority of NI grammar schools.

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