There have been eight further Covid-related deaths in Northern Ireland over the past 24 hours.
And there have been a further 1,165 cases recorded during the same time period, according to the Department of Health’s latest daily dashboard update.
That’s up 105 on the day before.
There were 136 – 10 less – in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, which remains the second highest in NI. There were 68 positive cases in Newry, Mourne and Down – which is down eight – while Mid-Ulster District recorded 116 – up 26. Belfast had the highest with 206.
A total of 5,717 individuals were tested in that time.
There are 383 – down 14 – people in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus, 31 – down three – of whom are in intensive care unit.
There are currently 64 Covid patients in Craigavon Area Hospital, and 16 ICU beds available across Northern Ireland.
The total number of deaths now stands at 2,525.
The Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area accounts for 343 deaths overall – up one – with Newry, Mourne and Down District remaining the same on 192 and Mid-Ulster also up one with 239 registered deaths.
Thursday’s figures come as Health Minister Robin Swann welcomed the announcement that new treatment, Ronapreve® will be available for hospitalised patients with Covid-19 from this week.
Ronapreve is a new innovative treatment that combines two neutralising monoclonal antibodies (nMABs) Casirivimab and Imdevimab. It is the first neutralising antibody medicine specifically designed to treat Covid-19 to be authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK.
Welcoming the new treatment, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “This new treatment is incredibly welcome and will benefit some of the most vulnerable patients in our hospitals.
“Alongside the success of our vaccine roll out, the development of new therapeutics is an important step in saving lives, protecting our health service, and fighting back against Covid-19.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Michael McBride said: “The availability of Ronapreve will help us significantly as we continue to move through this pandemic.
“It will initially be targeted at those in hospital aged 50 and over, or are aged 12 to 49 and are considered to be immunocompromised, and have not mounted an antibody response against Covid-19. This will include individuals who are immunocompromised, such as patients with certain cancer or autoimmune diseases.”
Antibody testing will first be used to determine whether patients are seronegative, meaning those who do not have an adequate existing antibody response.
The drug will be available to patients who meet certain clinical criteria as determined by a national expert group to support their recovery in hospital.
Trusts in Northern Ireland will be able to access Ronapreve® for eligible patients this week, and guidance has been issued to clinicians to support them to prescribe the treatment as soon as possible.