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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 29 November 2020

DUP MP questions the need amid reports NI's chief medical officer has recommended a six-week lockdown

The number of new cases in Northern Ireland has risen significantly in recent weeks.

DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson
DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Images

A SENIOR DUP MP has questioned the need for a region-wide lockdown in Northern Ireland.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s comments come amid reports that Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride is advocating a six-week lockdown to halt spiralling infection rates.

The cases in Northern Ireland have risen significantly in the last two weeks. During the weekend, there were almost 2,000 cases of Covid-19 confirmed. On Friday, a record-breaking 1,080 cases were confirmed.

Donaldson said such a proposal was far more extensive than what was in place or being considered elsewhere in the UK or in the Irish Republic.

“A six-week full lockdown, back to where we were last March, would I think take us way, way ahead of anywhere else,” he told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show.

“And the rate across Northern Ireland, I would need to be convinced that such measures at the moment are appropriate for all of Northern Ireland.

“I’d be wanting to know why we’re abandoning the policy of focusing in on the areas where the infection rates are highest.”

Donaldson said Dr Michael McBride needed to produce the data that justified the imposition of a six-week lockdown.

“What we’re asking the chief medical officer, why do we need a full lockdown in those areas where the infection rate is much lower so as to combat the spread of infection in places like Derry and Strabane?” he said.

“I think that’s a fair question.”

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The DUP’s Westminster leader also challenged Health Minister Robin Swann on why Covid-19 contingency measures – such as the reopening of a Nightingale hospital at Belfast City Hospital – had not been rolled out, if the situation facing the local health service was so grave.

Meanwhile, the North’s first minister and deputy first minister, along with Swann, will take part in a meeting of the UK government’s Cobra committee later. 

The daily case numbers in Northern Ireland are due to be announced at 2pm today. 

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