Over 40s in NI could be offered Covid vaccine earlier than originally thought - 'Unfair' to let ROI's slow vaccination scheme delay opening up in Northern Ireland - UK should offer ROI Covid vaccines when it has surplus says Arlene Foster - Quarantine absconder still at large and could be in Northern Ireland

Health Minister, Robin Swann, has said he is hopeful that people over the age of 40 will be invited to receive a Covid-19 vaccination jab as early as next week.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 6:39 pm

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Health Minister, Robin Swann.

LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus NI - Overs 40s could be offered Covid vaccine earlier than originally thought

Last updated: Monday, 29 March, 2021, 17:13

  • Overs 40s could be offered Covid vaccine earlier than originally thought
  • 'Unfair' to let ROI's slow vaccination scheme delay opening up in Northern Ireland
  • Quarantine absconder still at large and could be in Northern Ireland

Quarantine absconder still at large and could be in Northern Ireland

Three people absconded from government approved approved Covid-19 quarantine hotels in Dubling over the weekend.

Garda announced they had located two of the three individuals and they have been returned to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry.

Anyone who leaves a hotel during the time they are suppose to be in quarantine can be fined up to £2,000 on sent to prison.

'Unfair' to let ROI's slow vaccination scheme delay opening up in Northern Ireland

Health Minister Robin Swann has said it would be "unfair" to allow the Republic of Ireland's slow roll out of its Covid-19 scheme to delay the easing of restrictions in Northern Ireland.

Robin Swann said he did not think Northern Ireland would judge when to reopen society from coronavirus restrictions on the Republic of Ireland’s vaccination rate.

“It would be unfair to do that to the people of Northern Ireland because our vaccine programme is meeting our needs,” he said.

“In the Republic of Ireland, I’ve heard the Taoiseach say they hope to catch up in a couple of weeks or a month’s time, so that’s something we would like to see.”

He described the difference in vaccine rates as “simply down to supply chains”.

“We’re part of the UK pre-bought programme which bought into seven different vaccine sources even before they had been authorised, and the Republic has tied in with the European Union’s vaccine purchasing programme, and we’re seeing the challenges that has brought but we’re also hopeful that any difficulties between the UK and EU or Oxford/AstraZeneca will be ironed out and ironed out very soon because this shouldn’t be about politics, this is about public health.”

Any surplus coronavirus vaccines in the UK should be offered to the Republic of Ireland, Arlene Foster has said.

By Sunday, more than 850,000 Covid-19 vaccines had been administered in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster said more than 50% of the adult population have received their first dose.

Health Minister Robin Swann said he hopes that the Republic will “catch up” within a month.

Mrs Foster said she discussed the issue with Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he visited a vaccination centre in Fermanagh earlier this month, and pledged to continue that conversation.

“I think he does understand the difficulties, particularly around border areas and the movement of people in relation to vaccination,” she said.

“If there is surplus vaccine then we should share it with our nearest neighbours out of neighbourliness but also out of the fact it will have an impact of course on us here in Northern Ireland, so there’s a very practical reason why I believe that should happen.”

Mrs Foster received her first dose of the vaccine at the weekend.

On Monday she commented that apart from a sore arm, she felt well.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she would like to see more co-operation.

“What happens across these two islands has implications because we move freely across the two islands, so it is crucially important that we have an all-island approach to dealing with vaccination rollout,” she said.

“It’s the right thing to do, it’s the good thing to do. It’s responding to a global pandemic and we are all in this together, so we need to work together in order to protect our people. I would like to see a lot more co-operation as we come out of this period and into the future.”

Mr Swann said offering vaccine surplus to the Republic of Ireland was the “right thing to do”.

“My responsibility is to the people of Northern Ireland so, as of our operation here today, my key aim is to get as many people in Northern Ireland vaccinated as quickly as possible,” he said.

“We hope to have everyone receive their first vaccination by the end of July.

“In the Republic of Ireland, I’ve heard the Taoiseach say they hope to catch up in a couple of weeks or a month’s time, so that’s something we would like to see.”

He described the difference in vaccine rates as “simply down to supply chains”.

“We’re part of the UK pre-bought programme which bought into seven different vaccine sources even before they had been authorised, and the Republic has tied in with the European Union’s vaccine purchasing programme, and we’re seeing the challenges that has brought but we’re also hopeful that any difficulties between the UK and EU or Oxford/AstraZeneca will be ironed out and ironed out very soon, because this shouldn’t be about politics, this is about public health,” he said.

There were reports in a Sunday newspaper that UK ministers were working up plans to share 3.7 million doses with the Irish Republic.

Speaking at the weekend, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said: “There isn’t an offer that I’m aware of, or that the Government’s aware of, from the UK.

Zero additional Covid deaths and 65 new infections detected in last 24 hours

No further deaths of people who previously tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland were reported by the Department of Health on Monday.

Another 65 confirmed cases of the virus were recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period.

On Monday morning, there were 129 Covid-positive confirmed inpatients in hospital, of whom 17 were in ICUs.

Overs 40s could be offered Covid vaccine earlier than originally thought

Health Minister, Robin Swann, has said he is hopeful that people over the age of 40 will be invited to receive a Covid-19 vaccination jab as early as next week.

Speaking this afternoon, Minister Swann said: “I hope we will be moving to that cohort sometime this week - that’s all dependant as usual on vaccine supplies.

“We will look at our management systems to see uptake of the current age cohorts as well before making that decision.

“I would hope to be making that announcement within the next week,” said Minister Swann.

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