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Four further Covid-related deaths as 500 NI pharmacies now offering free Rapid Tests

There have been four further Covid-related deaths reported in Northern Ireland in the past past 24 hours.

The total number of deaths now stands at 2,669; 366 of which have occurred in the ABC borough, 201 in the NMD district, and 250 in Mid Ulster – no change on any three areas since yesterday.

There have been a further 1,124 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health’s latest daily dashboard update.

There were 155 positive cases in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – the second highest in NI. There were 89 cases in Newry, Mourne and Down, while Mid-Ulster recorded 88. Belfast – the highest in NI – recorded 184 positive cases.

A total of 4,384 individuals were tested in that time.

There are 358 – up 10 – people in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus, 34 – up one – of whom are in intensive care units.

There are currently 86 – up 10 – Covid patients in the Southern Trust area, 60 – up eight – of whom are in Craigavon Area Hospital. There are six ICU beds available across Northern Ireland.

Hospital occupancy in Northern Ireland currently stands at 105% – no change.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Robin Swann has outlined the increased accessibility of Rapid Tests and also highlighted the importance of regular Rapid Testing to help stop the spread of Covid-19 this winter.

With around one in three people with Covid-19 showing no symptoms, identifying cases early is important in helping to limit the spread of the virus.

Regular Rapid Testing can help identify positive cases of Covid-19 and enables people with the virus to take steps to stop them giving it to others.

Minister Swann said: “Even if you have already been vaccinated, regular Rapid Testing is important in limiting the spread of the virus, helping to protect those who are vulnerable, as well our health and social care system.

“For those who don’t already test on a regular basis, I would encourage you to avail of the free Rapid Tests that are available and make testing part of your routine. Tests are now readily available for collection right across Northern Ireland and can also be ordered online for delivery straight to your door.”

Free Rapid Tests are now available for:

  • Collection at over 550 sites across Northern Ireland, including 504 community pharmacies
  • Online home delivery
  • Workforce Testing Schemes

Alongside vaccination and contact tracing, testing is one of the key pillars of protection from the virus. Also known as Lateral Flow Device tests or antigen tests, Rapid Tests provide a result within 30 minutes at home.

The Minister added: “It’s important to report every test result, positive, negative or void. This data helps us understand where Covid is spreading and allows us to tackle the virus more effectively.”

More than 40,000 tests were distributed by community pharmacies in the first four weeks of the service launching in September.

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer said: “Community pharmacies have been a beacon of support in our communities throughout the pandemic. I would urge anyone who hasn’t started using Rapid Tests to ask for a test kit on their next visit to a community pharmacy.”

Matt Wills, Programme Director of the Rapid Testing Team said: “Rapid Tests are easy to access, simple to use and if you take a test first thing in the morning, your result will be ready before you leave the house. It is recommended that people should do a Rapid Test twice a week to check if they have the virus.”

Research by NHS Test and Trace shows Rapid Tests are 99.9% accurate. That means for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result. The tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation to ensure they are reliable.

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