First Minister Arlene Foster says sharing vaccines with Irish Republic ‘should happen’ | Death toll rises to 2,111 after another two people die with COVID-19

The death toll in NI has risen to 2,111 after another two deaths with COVID-19, the latest Department of Health dashboard has revealed.

Sunday, 28th March 2021, 6:35 pm

The dashboard reveals that the two deaths happened within the last 24 hours.

Also within the same time period another 116 people tested positive for the virus.

In the last seven days that number rises to 1,061.

There are now 126 people in NI hospitals with COVID-19 - and 15 of that number battling for life in ICU.

And there are now six people with COVID-19 in NI Care Homes.

The news comes as Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has said a reported plan for the UK to share vaccines with the Irish Republic is a “runner”.

Mrs Foster, who has raised the proposal with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in recent conversations, expressed confidence it “hopefully will happen”.

Treating a patient with COVID-19

She said sharing excess supply with the Irish Republic was important in respect of being good neighbours but also because it would have a practical impact in Northern Ireland in terms of the region’s exit from lockdown.

“I think it is a runner,” Mrs Foster told RTE.

“When I’m next speaking to him (Mr Johnson) I’ll be making that point again.

“I think it’s important that we continue the conversation and I’ll be listening very carefully to what our medical advisers are saying about the rollout of the vaccine in Northern Ireland, where it is in the Republic of Ireland and what that means for both jurisdictions.”

The DUP leader added: “I think it’s the right thing that should happen, I think it’s a very practical thing to do and I think it should happen and hopefully it will.”

A traffic management plan is set to be activated in Belfast to assist the vaccination programme at the SSE arena.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said this plan includes the suspension of car-park charging in Eastside and Northside car parks in Belfast.

Translink will be running a free shuttle-bus service from those car-parks and others across the city to ensure people travelling for a vaccination are able to do so in a safe and accessible way.

Minister Mallon said: “I am pleased to be playing my part in assisting the smooth running of the vaccination programme. The SSE Arena will be one of the busiest vaccination centres with the capacity to vaccinate up to 40,000 people per week. This part of the city will see increased level of traffic in an area where there is limited parking.

“My officials along with Translink, the PSNI and the South Eastern Trust are implementing a traffic management plan to ensure the free flow of traffic to facilitate an effective and efficient distribution of the vaccine to those who have booked appointments.

“This plan includes free car parking at a number of sites across the city and a shuttle bus service to the SSE.

“I would ask those travelling to the SSE for vaccines to use the free bus service to get to the centre. I would also remind people travelling on public transport that face coverings must be worn by all passengers and social distancing practices observed.”