21 more coronavirus-related deaths recorded in NI

Hospitals remain under significant pressure due to Covid-19. Credit: PA

Twenty-one more people who tested positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland have died, according to the Department of Health – 16 of them in the last 24-hour reporting period.

It brings the official death toll as recorded by the department to 1,692, although that figure is expected to increase significantly when deaths in all community settings have been accounted for.

The latest figures also show there have been 732 new positive cases, out of 2,958 individuals tested.

In the last seven days, there have been 5,563 positive cases.

There are currently 806 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals across Northern Ireland – 70 of them are in intensive care and 58 on ventilators.

Bed occupancy is at 96%, with Antrim Area, the Causeway, the Royal Victoria, and the Ulster Hospital all operating beyond capacity.

There are also 134 confirmed and active Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes.

It comes as Health Minister Robin Swann is expected to ask the NI Executive to extend current coronavirus restrictions by one month – to 5 March – in a bid to ease pressure on the health service.

A request for assistance has already been made to and accepted by the Ministry of Defence.

The Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) agreement will see over 100 medical technicians provide nursing support to a number of local trusts, as in other UK regions.

The union Unison sparked controversy when it posted a statement online questioning the decision, but has since said it does not object to receiving assistance from military personnel.