A FURTHER nine people have sadly lost their lives as a result of coronavirus.
This brings the total number of deaths since the start of the outbreak to 338.
These deaths are mostly, but not exclusively those which occurred in hospitals in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health announced today (Wednesday) that 55 more people have been confirmed as having coronavirus, which brings the number of confirmed cases to 3463.
To date a total of 24,359 tests have been carried out, which includes those tests which are carried out as part of the national testing programme.
Yesterday (Tuesday) the Health Minister, Robin Swann issued a detailed breakdown of the expansion of Covid-19 testing in Northern Ireland.
The Health Minister, Robin Swann announced an expansion programme which would see more testing take place
He announced the expansion would include surveillance testing in general practices and hospitals, as well as increased testing in care homes.
“Testing has always been a critical part of our pandemic response. It has been deployed for different purposes as this Covid-19 pandemic has evolved," he said.
“We are working with a number of key stakeholders and delivery partners across the HSC system, local universities and industry to further expand testing capacity across Northern Ireland.”
The Minister added: “Testing is not and should never be regarded as a silver bullet. It does not trap the virus or halt its spread. But it is a vital part of our weaponry and will continue to be so.
“Our approach includes targeted testing of patients in particular health and care settings, as well as testing in the community for surveillance purposes."
The expansion of testing will see a programme of testing and surveillance in general practices, which started at the end of last week. It will involve testing and data collection for a sample of patients with respiratory symptoms presenting to their GP.
These will be patients whose symptoms do not require referral to hospital or to primary care Covid centre. The surveillance testing programme will be based on general practices already involved in the ‘Influenza GP Spotter Surveillance System’.
The expansion will also include a rolling programme of testing and surveillance in Emergency Departments, which starts this week. This rolling programme will include testing a sample of patients who attend an ED with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, and who following clinical assessment are deemed not to require admission to hospital.
Additionally the expansion programme will include the testing of patients who are admitted to hospital for emergency or elective care; the testing of all residents and staff in any care home identified as having a potential outbreak or cluster of infection; testing of all patients being discharged from acute hospital care to a care home and testing of all patients/residents being transferred into a care home from any setting, whether that be from hospital, supported living or directly from their own home.