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Military ‘ready, willing and able’ to support vaccine rollout in NI as 24 more Covid-related deaths recorded

There were 24 further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health today (Tuesday).

Today’s stats – according to the official dashboard – take in the last 24 hours with 17 of the 24 passing away inside that period.

The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department now stands at 1,649.

There were a further 713 positive cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 185 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – once again the highest in NI by a distance – and a further 68 in Newry, Mourne and Down. There were 77 cases in Mid Ulster.

A total of 2,684 individuals were tested.

There are 842 – up 19 – people now in hospital as a result of the virus, 70 – up seven – of whom are in intensive care units.

There are currently 36 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.

A total of 202 Covid patients are currently in hospitals in the Southern Trust area; 147 in Craigavon; 27 in Daisy Hill; 26 in Lurgan and two in South Tyrone.

Meanwhile, Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said the military should support hospitals with a vaccine roll out.

DUP MP Carla Lockhart was welcoming the confirmation that the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces stand ready and willing to respond to a request from the Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA, for support in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The MP raised the prospect of military support in a question in the House of Commons to the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace MP.

“With our local hospitals at breaking point and our frontline health workers understandably physically and emotionally drained, we need to be looking at all available ways to support our health service at this time, and to also speed up to roll out of Covid-19 vaccine,” said Ms Lockhart.

“I very much support the deployment of our nation’s military in what is a very different battle, but also a very important one in support of our country and the protection of its people.

“The personnel support, as well as the medical and logistical expertise they can bring would lift some of the burden from our local healthcare workers. Surely that can only be a good thing? Furthermore, by speeding up the vaccine rollout we can bring forward our exit from lockdown by protecting the most vulnerable sooner.”

The Defence Secretary, in response to Ms Lockhart’s question, made clear that the Ministry of Defence is “ready, willing and able” to meet any request for support from Northern Ireland.

“I hope such a request is made soon and that the benefit we can gain from having this additional support can be seen in our community soon,” Ms Lockhart added.

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