Altnagelvin Hospital's A&E Department very busy
Three more people sadly died of Covid-19 in Derry and Strabane over the weekend as new cases in the area continued on a downward trajectory.
Ten more deaths were registered across the country today.
Derry and Strabane recorded 31 new Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours bringing the overall tally to 5,963.
In the past seven days there have been 392 positive cases and the rate per 100k of population over the same period is 260.2
Compared to the same date last month, the seven day figures have dropped by 850 in terms of cases and the rate is around 70 per cent lower.
However, the local rate of infection remains the second highest in Northern Ireland.
There were three Covid-related deaths in Derry City and Strabane over the weekend, bringing the total death toll locally to 59.
Five people were admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital over the weekend – two aged 40-59, two aged 80 and over and one aged 60-79.
The Derry hospital currently has 65 Covid inpatients, 11 of whom are in intensive care.
Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the positive announcement by Pfizer and BioNTech on the preliminary analysis of a new coronavirus vaccine.
But the Minister has cautioned the public not to 'let down their guard' despite progress towards mass vaccination in 2021.
The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is one of a number of Covid vaccines under development and undergoing testing.
Mr Swann stated: “We have been waiting a long time for positive news. While there are very important regulatory and safety assurance hurdles to still be cleared, today represents a step forward.
“While there are no guarantees, there is a possibility that vaccination of at risk sections of our community could begin by the end of this year.
“However, I would appeal to everyone not to let down their guard just because there is some light at the end of this very long tunnel. It will likely be well into 2021 before a vaccine is generally available to the population – not least because mass global vaccination is a huge logistical challenge.
“As I have said before, we are in for a hard slog this winter – in terms of intense pressures on our health service and unavoidable restrictions on our daily lives.
“We all have to redouble our efforts – continue limiting our contacts and keeping our distance from each other; wear face coverings when required; and keep washing our hands.
“But let’s be positive about the future. The incredible progress to date on developing a vaccine - together with planned mass testing and improved treatments - means we can look towards next Spring with some hope. Pessimists keep telling us we will be locked into endless stop-start cycles of restrictions. I have faith that they will be proved wrong.”
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