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Five more deaths, 1,012 new cases of coronavirus




Another 1,012 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours and the virus has been linked to the deaths of five other people.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 27,220 as the death toll stands at 615.

Some 7,090 new positive cases have been reported in the past seven days. There are 228 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals in Northern Ireland and 30 in intensive care.

It was also revealed that four prison officers based at Hydebank Wood Institution for Women and Young Offenders in South Belfast have tested positive for the virus.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service said 14 other staff who tested negative are self-isolating and two prisoners have also been placed in segregation.

Prison visits were temporarily suspended on Friday as tough new restrictions took effect in Northern Ireland to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes are closed for the next four weeks, with the exception of take out and deliveries. Hairdressers and beauty salons are also closed and schools are closed for two weeks.

The Unison union has urged the Stormont executive to ensure that health workers do not suffer financial loss if they have to take time to care for children due to school closures.

A spokesperson stressed that health workers are “predominantly female” and that thousands of people have family responsibilities and therefore cannot work from home.

“Our members – nurses, home care workers, caterers, housekeepers and health care assistants – shouldn’t have to choose between paying a bill or using that money to pay for extra childcare costs.”

Read more stories about coronaviruses

Meanwhile, a Belfast business owner has expressed frustration with Stormont over what he called a ‘lack of clarity and support’ regarding the tough new coronavirus restrictions.

Barber shop owner Jeff Faulkner said he believed his industry had been forgotten and called for more clarity on the new rules as well as financial support.

Hair salons were closed for several months during the lockdown, reopened in July. Now Mr Faulkner has said they have been closed again, this time on “less than 48 hours notice”.

He argued that the industry was “neither heard nor listened to,” with an emphasis instead on hospitality.

“This is a devastating blow to our business ahead, as it does so close to our busiest time of the year and with our reserves already depleted by the first forced shutdown,” he said.

Mr Faulkner said businesses understand the need to slow the increase in Covid-19 cases, but said the decisions made by the executive appear “chaotic, confusing and do not appear to have been thought out.”

“Where’s the science that says hairdressers are less safe than gyms or churches? Salon staff all wear PPE, clients wear masks, wash their hands and wash their hands before and after each client.” , he said.

Additional reports: PA

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