Twenty-two further Covid-19 deaths recorded in Northern Ireland

Credit: PA

Twenty-two people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, according to the latest figures.

The Department of Health recorded 18 deaths in the last 24 hour period and 4 that occurred outside that period, the death toll recorded by the department stands at 1,498.

A further 1,205 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for the virus.

The hospitals are operating at 99% bed occupancy, with 751 Covid inpatients, 55 of those are being treating in ICU and 36 are on ventilators.

The latest figures come as nearly one in ten frontline police officers are off duty due to coronavirus.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd insists that despite the significant pressure this puts on the force, the public should expect to see more vehicle check points and officers in their area in the coming days.

He says it's to ensure people heed the regulations and stay at home unless their journey is essential.

Meanwhile, First Minister Arlene Foster has praised the reduction of the R-number in Northern Ireland from 1.8 to around 1.1.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill in Dungannon, Mrs Foster urged the public to "take personal responsibility and do the right thing".

She urged "simple and everyday choices" such as phoning family and friends rather than visiting, doing one big food shop rather than nipping out each day and not going into the workplace when people don't have to.

"I do appreciate the costs these restrictions are having, I appreciate the weariness, we're all sick and tired of restrictions but we absolutely must do it to get through it," she said.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccine is rolling out at a very good rate, we can see a route back to normality but it will take us months to get there."