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Live Reporting

Chris Andrews, David Wilson, Michael Shiels McNamee and Damien Edgar

All times stated are UK

  1. And that's a wrap

    Golfer tees off at Massarene Golf Club in Antrim

    That brings us to the end of today's live coverage of coronavirus developments in Northern Ireland and further afield.

    We'll be back at 07:30 tomorrow with more minute-by-minute updates, so do join us then.

    We'll leave you with this picture of the "new normal" at Massereene Golf Club in Antrim, on the day when golfers returned to the greens and fairways for the first time since lockdown began.


  2. Poots warns of damage to the water environment from 'DIY efforts'

    Environment Minister Edwin Poots

    Environment Minister Edwin Poots says a number of ongoing water pollution incidents across Northern Ireland may be from people washing the waste from home improvements or gardening into the wrong drains.

    “The pollution we’ve observed is most likely the result of the wastewater associated with painting, decorating, cleaning, plastering or doing something similar, being washed into the wrong drain and straight into the nearest river,” he said.

    "I know people are taking this time to catch up on jobs around the house but please make sure disposing of the wastewater associated with these DIY jobs doesn't damage your local river.

    "It’s important we continue to protect and respect our environment during this time and these simple measures will help do just that,” Minister Poots added.

    Only rain and surface water should go down the storm or surface water drain outside your house.

    DAERA says homeowners must use the foul sewer to dispose of wastewater, which is connected to a wastewater treatment works, for appropriate treatment, and not the local river.

    Leftover paint should be taken to the nearest recycling centre or stored with a lid on until it can be taken to one.

  3. Rees-Mogg asks MPs to return to Westminster

    Jacob Rees-Mogg

    Jacob Rees-Mogg has asked MPs to return to Westminster after recess, at the beginning of June.

    The Commons leader said MPs cannot do their job properly via video link - and he wants them to set an example to the rest of the country.

    He said they are looking at ways to allow MPs who are part of the "shielded" group to participate.

    Opposition parties want to continue working remotely to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    Read more on this story here.

  4. Regular health services to resume over 'next weeks and months'

    The medical director at NHS England says he expects there will be "more capacity" for regular health services to resume across the UK over the "next weeks and months".

    Many services have been cancelled or delayed due to the reorganisation of healthcare to tackle the pandemic.

    Stephen Powis

    Stephen Powis was asked about staff who have been redeployed from their usual area of work.

    He said prioritising Covid-19 care was "the right thing to do".

  5. Care homes the 'Cinderella service'

    Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit says care homes have been the "Cinderella service" and says "we've always expected them to be there".

    Speaking at Stormont's Executive Office committee earlier, Mr Carroll raised an issue flagged by a constituent whose relative was admitted to a care home that had previously received a number of complaints about "infection prevention" over a number of years.

    He asks if there is a correlation between complaints raised about care homes and deaths.

    Health Minister Robin Swann replies “in regards to the care home structure”, he says it should be “better funded and supported centrally”.

    The minister says from visiting care homes and speaking to domiciliary workers it’s clear to see “they love what they do”.

    Gerry Carroll

    The chief medical officer refers to an earlier point about footfall in care homes.

    He says “there have been inspections in care homes” where they were required during the pandemic.

    Dr Michael McBride outlines how the health service watchdog, the RQIA, was repurposed and says it is in “daily contact with care homes”.

    “I genuinely believe that the support we provide by RQIA into the care home sector has been extremely beneficial," he adds.

  6. Grieving through a coronavirus crisis

    The Health and Social Care Board NI has provided booklets with advice for people who have experienced a bereavement during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

    Restricted numbers at funerals and social distancing have been in place during the crisis, but the trust says this is making the grieving process more difficult.

    View more on twitter
  7. '284 health service staff absent with positive Covid tests'

    Alex Easton

    The DUP's Alex Easton says the latest figure he has for health service staff who were absent due to a positive Covid test is 284.

    There are 1,792 staff who are self-isolating, Mr Swann adds.

    This amounts to 2.9% of the staff population.

    Mr Easton told a Stormont committee earlier today that the minister and the chief medical officer are doing "the best possible job".

  8. Further 11 deaths reported in Republic of Ireland

    A further 11 deaths have been recorded in the Republic of Ireland, with the country's total standing at 1,571.

    There have been 64 more confirmed cases of the virus, which is now 24,015 overall.

    Ronan Glynn

    Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said 21,060 people have recovered from Covid-19 in the Republic.

    The Irish Department of Health says "of those for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 60%, close contact accounts for 37%, travel abroad accounts for 3%".

  9. Almost 40% of care home residents tested

    Robin Swann has said that 4,950 residents, "almost 40% of our entire care home population", have now been tested for Covid-19.

    He told Stormont's Health Committee that 4,816 care home workers have now been tested, and there were 70 homes with confirmed outbreaks of Covid-19.

    Mr Swann adds that 35 care home have concluded Covid-19 outbreaks since the start of the pandemic.

    Robin Swann
  10. PHA says contact tracing plan can help with easing of restrictions

    PHA coronavirus contact tracing team

    The Public Health Agency says a new contact tracing pilot in Northern Ireland can help ensure lockdown measures are eased quicker, if people comply with it.

    Dr Jackie Hyland, speaking on Evening Extra said: "This is one of the reasons we're getting the lifting of the social isolation".

    "If we have a contact tracing process in place, it means that when anybody gets infected we can move in very quickly and stop the development of clusters.

    "If we don't do that and if people don't work with us, then the whole thing breaks down and we have a massive increase in infection right across the community.

    "So yes, people will get a phone call and we would appreciate it if they do listen and if they would go back into self-isolation because it's important that they don't get any more infections or pass it on to other people."

  11. Pharmacies 'could play enhanced health service role' after Covid-19

    Pharmacies should play a more central role in the health service here as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Community Pharmacy NI’s chief exec says.

    “During the recent weeks and months, it is apparent that the community pharmacy network stepped up massively and adapted almost overnight to keep the flow of vital medicines to patients managing conditions in addition to those presenting symptoms at pharmacies who were unable to access their GP,” Gerard Greene says.


    NI’s Health Minister Robin Swann is exploring how the health service may function after the pandemic.

    Mr Greene says community pharmacies can play “an enhanced role".

    “The minister has stated that there is a clear opportunity to make a number of improvements and we are keen to work with the department to ensure that any investment in community pharmacy is one that works to help transform the health service,” he says.

  12. What's behind the UK's jump in testing?

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    More than 177,000 tests were provided on Tuesday – a record amount.

    It is not surprising to see such a high number.

    On Monday, the government announced eligibility for testing was going to be increased.

    All over-fives are now able to get tests if they have symptoms – previously it was limited to key workers, over-65s, people who needed to leave home for work, hospital patients and care home residents in England and Scotland.


    In Wales and Northern Ireland it was even more limited.

    What is not yet clear is how many of these tests were posted out.

    The figure includes those carried out at testing centres and in hospitals, as well as those sent out by post - but not yet returned.

  13. 'We will not be able to save every job' - economy minister

    Richard Morgan

    BBC News NI business reporter

    Economy Minister Diane Dodds appeared before the assembly's economy committee this morning and, in her opening statement, she described the coronavirus pandemic as a "health emergency" but added: "We are living through an unprecedented economic and social crisis".

    On jobs, she said: “I know we will not be able to save every job but we are working hard to save as many as we can.”

    Diane Dodds

    The minister spoke about efforts to reopen economies around the world and the need to "build on our strengths", particularly Northern Ireland's digital economy.

    Essentially, she said, it’s a balancing act of getting business moving but keeping people safe and that ‘R’ rate down.

    There were lots of references by the minister about papers that will be brought to the executive about NI's economic recovery.

    We will wait and see what they say, but there's no indication as to when they will be published.

  14. 'Huge challenges' for NI recovery from Covid-19

    There will be "huge challenges" for Northern Ireland's economy in the future because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Arlene Foster has warned.

    Appearing before Stormont's Executive Office committee this afternoon, Mrs Foster said if Northern Ireland businesses had not been able to avail of the furlough scheme, unemployment figures would have been "much worse".

    Mrs Foster said she has "real concerns" about what will happen to workers when the government's furlough scheme ends.

    The first minister cited recent unemployment figures in NI, which rose by almost 90% in April.

    It was due to run until June, but has since been extended to the end of October.

    The scheme allows employers to temporarily lay off staff while the government pays 80% of their wages during the crisis.

    A transaction taking place in a shop

    She said: "What happens to some of those jobs when the scheme comes to an end and is tapered away, how can we support those people?"

    "We're in the response phase, when we move to the recovery and renewal phase, there will be huge challenges."

  15. UK could move to level three of Covid alert system - Dowden

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says the UK is "now in a position to begin moving to level three" of the government's Covid alert system.

    The five-stages indicate the spread of the virus and the need for tighter controls to combat it.

    A move to level three suggests the virus is in "general circulation", however, there can be a "gradual relaxing of restrictions and social distancing measures".

    "The lower the level, the fewer the measures.

    "The higher the level, the stricter the measures," Mr Dowden explained.

    Oliver Dowden

    He also outlined there would be a delay to announcing this year's Queen's birthday honours list until the Autumn to allow for recognition of people's efforts to combat the crisis.

  16. Paediatric and neonatal inpatient services returning to SWAH

    South West Acute Hospital

    The South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen will reopen its paediatric and neonatal inpatients service from next Monday.

    The temporary relocation to Altnagelvin at the start of April caused concerns among staff at SWAH.

    That move formed part of the Western Trust's Covid-19 surge planning, but with hospitals coping with the level of patient demand, it has been relaxed.

  17. Further 363 UK deaths recorded

    A further 363 Covid-19-related deaths have been recorded across the UK, bringing the known total to 35,704.

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says 177,216 tests were carried out in the past 24 hours, the highest UK testing number to date.

    This, however, does not correspond to the number of people actually tested as some individuals are tested more than once.

  18. If you are just joining us

    Here's a update on where we are so far today:

    There are now 18 people being treated in intensive care in Northern Ireland with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Health - an increase of two since Tuesday.

    Today's figures further show that as of 09:00 today:

    • A total of 669 inpatients are being treated for confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
    • A total of 5,899 people have been admitted to hospital since the pandemic began
    • The number of people to test positive for coronavirus here has risen by 18 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 4,439
    • There are 70 confirmed outbreaks in care homes - a drop of one since Tuesday.
    • The department reports a further 34 suspected care home outbreaks
    Deirdre Hargey speaking at the evening coronavirus briefing on 20 May
  19. 'More than 2,500 council staff furloughed' - Hargey

    More than 2,500 council staff across Northern Ireland's 11 councils have been furloughed, according to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

    She said it was "important that we protect those jobs" both now and "into the recovery period".

    Furloughing staff will be kept "under close observation" she added, with a review expected in August.

    The minister said additional funding being provided to councils should ease some of the financial pressures they have experienced.

  20. 'Thank-you NHS'

    Police in Dundonald have been working with primary school pupils as part of a home art project.

    The children from Brooklands Primary School, Ballybeen, and Dundonald Primary put pen to paper to create a design in honour of healthcare workers.

    Dundonald Neighbourhood Policing Team member PC Alan McTier asked pupils to create a masterpiece to recognise the work of healthcare staff.

    The winning design from eight-year-old Jakob Jeska, a pupil from Brooklands Primary, was chosen via a Lisburn and Castlereagh PSNI Nextdoor poll.

    psni teachers nurse and jacob

    Nurse Jennifer Nicholson, from the Ulster Hospital, chose the winner.

    The design has been made into single-use adhesive stickers which will be given to hospital staff.

    PC McTier said it was a good way to engage with the young artists “at a time when they are working from home at the moment".

    "It was wonderful to see so many entries and what a great way to recognise the great work of healthcare workers at this time,” he added.