A "significant" consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been ordered from China for frontline workers tackling coronavirus, the Finance Minister has said.
Conor Murphy said the Northern Ireland Executive had agreed a joint order with Dublin and were also working with the UK procurement system, but declined to detail how much PPE has been ordered or when it will arrive.
"We want to ensure that if the crisis that is coming our way and those supply lines across the Irish Sea start to dry up, that we have our own supplies," he said.
"This is a joint effort with the Dublin government, the order has been placed,so I can't give certainty in terms of the flights, but we obviously want to getit here as quickly as possibly.
Mr Murphy added: "We also want to ensure that where we do have - and we do have supplies of PPE - that that gets to frontline workers as quickly as they need it and that we give them certainty that if and when that is used, then we have a sufficient back-up supply coming."
Speaking before the First Minister, the Deputy First Minister appealed to people not following the public health advice on coronavirus to 'join with us' in the fight against the outbreak.
Michelle O'Neill made the plea alongside First Minister Arlene Foster, during their daily update on the latest information and guidance around the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We should never lose the fact that 13 families have been bereaved one week," she said.
"Thirteen families are left without their loved ones and that’s what’s at the heart of all we try to do to fight back against Covid-19 – it’s to save lives."
“I repeat my call on non-essential businesses to close – not tomorrow, not next week, but now. Do this for the safety of your family, do this for the safety of your workers, do this for the wider community, in particularly those most at risk.”
The Health Minister Robin Swann reaffirmed that message on Friday afternoon and appealed to people considering going outside this weekend to enjoy the good weather, to stay at home.
“We have to maintain the fightback against Covid-19," Robin Swann said.
"That means every one of us staying at home and regularly washing our hands thoroughly. Only leave home if it’s absolutely necessary and, if you have to go out, keep your distance from others."
Mr Swann says that "for the sake of everyone you care about, don’t take a chance this weekend.”