Seven new cases of coronavirus takes NI total to 52

Seven new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Northern Ireland, taking the total to 52.

According to the latest update from the Department of Health, 1171 tests have been carried out.

People with mild symptoms - new persistent cough and/or fever - are not being tested and are asked to stay at home and self-isolate.

Health Minister Robin Swann has said that the “herd immunity” concept is not a tool his department will be using.

Herd immunity occurs when enough people become resistant to a disease because of previous exposure or vaccination to stop it spreading.

Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential Covid-19 vaccine.

According to a US government official, the first participant in a clinical trial for such a vaccine will receive an experimental dose on Monday.

Minister Swann has further outlined the number of ventilators available to treat patients suffering from respiratory difficulties caused by Covid-19 across Northern Ireland.

There are currently 139 ventilators across all of the health trusts.

It is hoped that figure will be increased by another 40 by the end of the month, taking the total to 179, while theatre ventilators will also be available given the cancellation of elective surgeries.

Minister Swann has asked companies who can “reprofile” to help manufacture ventilators and/or personal protection equipment to come forward.

In Great Britain, Rolls Royce and the JCB construction equipment manufacturer have said they can do so.

A total of 88 intensive care unit (ICU) beds are available in Northern Ireland and there are plans to expand that to 126 adult beds.

UK-wide, the number of people to have tested positive for coronavirus has risen to 1,543 - an increase of 171 cases from the same point on Sunday.

The latest figures come as the first death of a coronavirus patient in Wales was confirmed – a 68-year-old with underlying health conditions.

New measures announced by the Prime Minister on Monday included avoiding pubs and clubs, owners of pubs and restaurants had already taken the decision to close their doors over St Patrick’s Day, and some for the foreseeable future.

On Monday evening Belfast City Council agreed to close leisure centres and community centres as well as St George's Market, the ICC Belfast and Ulster Hall.

The Belfast City Marathon has also been postponed.

And Ulster Rugby's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final match away to Toulouse is postponed.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know