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Northern Ireland: 923 Covid-19 cases confirmed, Taoiseach and Boris Johnson discuss 'alarming' situation

The Derry City and Strabane Council area has one of the highest infection rates in the UK.

The Taoiseach met with European Council president Charles Michel in Dublin today.
The Taoiseach met with European Council president Charles Michel in Dublin today.
Image: Julien Behal

Updated Oct 8th 2020, 2:21 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke by phone this morning amid the worsening Covid-19 situation in Northern Ireland. 

923 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in NI over the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

4,674 cases have been reported in the last seven days, bringing the overall total number of cases confirmed in the region to 17,110.

One further death has been reported by the department, bringing the toll to 587.

The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister agreed to monitor the developing situation, with the CMOs on both sides of the border Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Michael McBride this afternoon discussing a “harmonising of measures” on both sides of the border 

The Derry City and Strabane Council area, which has one of the highest infection rates in the UK, is currently subject to additional restrictions.

The border counties of Donegal and Monaghan also have the highest incidence rates of Covid-19 in the Republic. 

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach confirmed that Martin had spoken to his British counterpart this morning.

“Both expressed concern about the rising figures in the North but the PM also raised concerns about the impact of restrictions on the economy. They will continue to monitor the situation and remain in touch,” they said. 

A spokesperson for Downing Street also confirmed the talks, adding that “it wasn’t a call about any aspects of Brexit”.

“It was about the response to Covid and ensuring that the United Kingdom government and the Irish government can work closely together on helping to combat the spread of the virus on the island of Ireland,” the spokesperson said. 

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Martin said they discussed the “very serious” Covid-19 case numbers in NI and the need for financial support. 

He said that there was “no talk” with Johnson about an island-wide circuit breaker where 

The idea of a ‘circuit breaker’ is for a short, sharp period of tight restrictions intended to curb a rise in coronavirus cases.

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Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said this morning that her and First Minister Arlene Foster have “asked again for an urgent conversation with Boris Johnson”. 

“It is clear that our situation is worsening at an alarming rate. We are past the point of warnings. We need financial support for families, workers and businesses immediately,” she said. 

Northern Ireland’s executive is meeting today and is to consider increasing fines for breaches of Covid-19 regulations as well as an extension of rules around face coverings to make them mandatory in public settings.  

While NI ministers are due to discuss the potential extension of restrictions to other council areas with high rates, such as Newry, Mourne and Down council, they are not anticipated to make final decisions on that today. 

- With reporting by Christina Finn and Press Association

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Rónán Duffy

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