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  1. ITV Report

Five million items of personal protective equipment on way to Northern Ireland - Health Secretary

Northern Ireland will receive millions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) from London ahead of an expected Covid 19 surge, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said he has agreed with the Northern Ireland Executive to "immediately" provide five million items of PPE.

The announcement on Friday evening followed disagreements on the issue between members of the Executive.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill criticised health minister Robin Swann, claiming he had been "too slow" to act over the coronavirus threat.

Mr Swann has insisted that there are "significant" supplies of PPE.

"Of course staff deserve to have the right type of PPE and get it when they need it," Mr Swann said.

"We do have significant stores of PPE in place, we've over 22.5million gloves, nearly seven million aprons and over a million items of eye protection but couldn't we do with more, of course we could."

– Health Minister Robin Swann

"We are aggressively pursuing all feasible routes, nationally, internationally and local.

"This is an absolute priority for both me as well as my executive colleagues."

The rifts came on a day when the largest number of deaths of Covid-19 patients was confirmed.

Twelve deaths were announced by the Public Heath Agency on Friday, bringing Northern Ireland's total to 48 with 904 confirmed cases in the region.<

Earlier concerns were expressed with the first batch of PPE equipment which arrived in Dublin from China with images posted online showing gowns with three-quarter length sleeves, leaving arms exposed.

Mr Swann warned he would not accept any inferior materials.