There were three further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland today (Sunday).
Today’s stats – according to the official dashboard – take in the last 24 hours with all three passing away inside that period.
The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department now stands at 2,055.
Of those deaths, the ABC Borough accounts for 276; Newry, Mourne and Down District at 160; and Mid-Ulster with 194.
There were a further 136 positive cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 18 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – the second highest in NI. There was a further seven in Newry, Mourne and Down and 15 in Mid-Ulster.
A total of 1,243 individuals were tested.
There are 301 – six less than yesterday – people now in hospital as a result of the virus, 34 of whom are in intensive care units.
There are currently 38 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.
A total of 96 – one less than yesterday – Covid patients are currently in hospitals in the Southern Trust area – with 45 in Craigavon; 12 in Daisy Hill, 34 in Lurgan, five in St Luke’s, Armagh and none in South Tyrone.
It comes as the Department of Health recommends changes for visiting arrangements for all care settings – including hospitals, hospices and care homes – should take effect from tomorrow (Monday) March 1.
The four UK Chief Medical Officers have recommended that the Regional Alert Level should move back from Level 5 to Level 4.
As a result, the visiting restrictions for all care settings across Northern Ireland as detailed in the visiting guidance will revert to those applying at Level 4.
All Health and Social Care Trust facilities in Northern Ireland should now move to facilitate at least one face-to-face visit per week by one person.
In Hospices, one visitor for one hour daily is recommended where the environment is Covid-19 secure. This means maintaining social distance of up to 2m, attending to hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene, good ventilation and appropriate use of PPE and wearing face covering.
In maternity services – one partner will be able to accompany the pregnant woman to dating scan, anomaly scan, early pregnancy clinic, fetal medicine appointments and when the woman is in active labour (to be defined by midwife). Visits in antenatal and postnatal wards will be for one person for up to one hour once a week.
Care homes that do not have a current outbreak should facilitate a variety of visiting arrangements, including in indoor settings where possible, to enable meaningful contact between residents and their loved ones. Care homes that haven’t already implemented arrangements for care partners are encouraged to do so.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The guidance is subject to local risk assessment. It will be kept under constant review and revised as appropriate.”