Coronavirus: Further 16 deaths confirmed in NI

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A hospital worker by an ambulanceImage source, PA Media

A further 16 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland, according to the department of health.

The latest figures released on Saturday show that 294 people have now died.

This mostly includes deaths in hospitals, with the overall total expected to be much higher when other deaths in the community are included.

The department's daily update also says there have been outbreaks of coronavirus in 65 care homes.

It further details there are 38 patients being treated in intensive care units across Northern Ireland for confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.

While there are 618 Covid-19 patients in hospitals, 2,863 people have been discharged.

Across the UK, 20,319 people have died in hospitals after a rise of 813 on the previous day.

A further 52 deaths were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland on Saturday, bringing the country's total to 1,063.

Image source, Department of Health

On Friday, the Stormont executive amended lockdown laws, providing updated guidance to the PSNI intended to slow the spread of the virus.

On exercise, it says that a drive to a safe space or facility would be permitted under the regulations.

However, “taking a long drive to a beach or resort where numbers of people may gather is unlikely to be regarded as reasonable".

The changes to the legislation have been published on the department of health website.

Earlier this month, the PSNI said its legal advice was that any journey to a location to take exercise was a breach of the rules.

But it was accused of misinterpreting the legislation.

Commander's approval needed

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “We said in our statement earlier this week that greater clarity in the regulations would have undoubtedly made our job easier to police this current health crisis.

“Therefore we welcome the announcement and the clarity that the change to the regulations will bring to the public and police officers alike.”

He said a PSNI policy whereby officers have to seek a commander’s approval to issue any more penalty fines would remain in place until the changes “bedded in".

Figures released by the police revealed they have issued 358 fines since 30 March.

The highest number have been in Belfast (89), followed by Derry and Strabane (52) and Newry, Mourne and Down (50).