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Five more people diagnosed with Coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Five more people have been diagnosed with Coronavirus in Northern Ireland bringing the total number here to 34. Credit: UTV

Five more people have been diagnosed with Coronavirus in Northern Ireland bringing the total number here to 34.

The Department of Health confirmed the new figures on Saturday.

Meanwhile, at the North-South Ministerial Council in Armagh, First Minister Arlene Foster said schools in Northern Ireland could close for 16 weeks.

In the statement, the department says people with mild symptoms - new persistent cough and/or fever - should stay at home and self-isolate for seven days and will not require testing.

It added that testing is now being principally provided for patients requiring hospital treatment and those with particular medical conditions.

Testing of healthcare workers who have been in contact with symptomatic and/or confirmed cases will also be required.

Protocols on case reporting are being updated in light of the new testing procedures.

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Earlier on Saturday political leaders and medical officials from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland met in Armagh to discuss tackling the outbreak.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill publicly disagreed with the approach concerning the closure of schools.

Ms O'Neill said on Friday that Northern Ireland should follow the Republic and close schools immediately.

Ms Foster said she was following protocol from the Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride.

Leaders and medical officials met in Armagh. Credit: Leo Varadkar/Twitter

At the meeting, Ms Foster said: "At some stage in the future, when we are advised on the medical evidence, they will have to close the schools.

"Children will be at home for quite a considerable period of time, given that when we do close the schools they will be closed for at least 16 weeks.

"Then of course you are into the summer period, so they will be off school for a very long time."

But the Deputy First Minister disagreed.

"In my opinion schools should close now. I think we need to be consistent across this island," she said.

"I think the fact that you can have two schools a mile apart and one school's open and one school's closed that's a very confusing picture and a very confusing message for the public."

The Department of Health says further information will be provided early next week.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

UTV Deputy Political Editor Tracey Magee reports from Armagh: