Number of coronavirus-related deaths in NI rises to 140

One-hundred-and-forty people who tested positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland have now sadly died, according to the latest figures.

According to the Public Health Agency, the number of confirmed cases in the region stands at 2,088.

UK-wide, a total of 12,868 patients have died in hospital after testing positive - up by 761 the day before.

The Department of Health said a total of 398,916 coronavirus tests had been carried out, with 98,476 testing positive.

Meanwhile, a clinical trial – jointly run by Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Warwick – is to assess whether treating critically ill Covid-19 patients earlier with non-invasive ventilation could cut the need to use invasive mechanical ventilators later on.

The universities say they hope that by finding effective alternatives to invasive ventilation, they could improve patient outcomes.

The trial will involve up to 4,000 UK patients.

It comes as the Government has been working to boost stocks of the machines, which help support the breathing of very ill coronavirus patients, giving their bodies time to fight the infection and recover.

Downing Street has said the UK has about 10,000 ventilators available, with a further 2,000 on order, and provisional orders for thousands more subject to regulatory approval.

It is estimated about 18,000 of the machines will be needed as the peak of infections approaches, with reports suggesting up to 30% of all critically-ill patients will need invasive ventilation.

During the trial, researchers will compare the effects of standard care, incubation and invasive ventilation, with non-invasive treatments like use of the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) method, with air delivered through a tight-fitting face mask.

It will also compare use of the high flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) system, which delivers warmed oxygen through tubes in the nose, and the standard care of air delivered via a mask.

The data will be regularly reviewed so clinicians can quickly find out what works and use those methods treating patients.

The trial will be offered to adult in-patients in NHS hospitals with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, with an equal chance of getting standard care or one of the non-invasive treatments determined at random by a computer.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know