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NI health minister `concerned about increase in…

Northern Ireland’s health minister has expressed alarm at the increasing number of Covid-19 cases.

Robin Swann said there had been 194 positive tests in the last seven days.

No further deaths were announced on Tuesday but another 48 diagnoses of the infectious disease were confirmed – bringing the overall tally to 6,188.

Mr Swann said: “I am concerned about the rise in positive cases in recent days.

“We now have an average of over 27 new positive cases per day compared to approximately three per day a few short weeks ago.

“It is very concerning that nine people have been admitted to hospital with Covid-19, two of which are currently in intensive care units.

“This highlights the continuing threat from Covid-19 and we must all do everything within our power to tackle this.”

The Stormont powersharing minister said contact tracing remained key to tackling Covid-19.

More than 230,000 downloads of the Stop COVIDNi tracing app have been recorded.

The minister added: “We spent many weeks clapping in support of our health and social care staff and I urge everyone to remember why we did that.

“The threat has not gone away and our health and social care system still needs our support.

“The measures that we have introduced will help slow the spread of Covid-19 and keep more of our loved ones and family safe.”

A leading Northern Ireland school has told pupils and staff they must wear face masks when classes resume later this month.

Belfast Royal Academy, a co-educational grammar school in the north of the city, issued the guidance in a letter to parents and guardians.

It said pupils would not be allowed into class without a mask.

The school said it would be issuing washable face masks to pupils.

Last week, Stormont’s education minister Peter Weir said children would not have to don them in schools, insisting such a policy would be “not implementable”.

However, the Executive’s chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young has said the wearing of face coverings by older pupils in certain school settings could offer some benefit.

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