Northern Ireland's Public Health Agency has confirmed 12 more coronavirus-related deaths, making a total of 48 deaths in the region.

There have been 130 new cases since yesterday, and 904 cases in total.

The PHA said 7,525 people have now been tested for coronavirus in the North, including 625 since yesterday.

The highest number of confirmed cases are in Belfast at 272.

Across Northern Ireland, 51% of confirmed cases, or 432 people, are women and 49%, or 441 people are men.

The majority of confirmed cases (40% or 362 people) are aged between 45 and 69.

Figures show 32% (286 people) are under 44, while the remaining 28% of case (256 people) are over 70.

Stormont finance minister Conor Murphy's deal with the Irish Government to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) from China has been questioned.

Concerns have been expressed about the first batch which has been arriving on Aer Lingus flights since Sunday.

Last week, Mr Murphy announced that a "significant" consignment of PPE had been secured in a joint order between Stormont and the Irish Government.

However, Stormont sources have queried whether any deal between the Irish Government and Northern Ireland executive for the order has been finalised.

The department of finance responded by saying that in the last couple of weeks the finance minister "has been assisting efforts to procure PPE and other supplies with both the Irish and British governments".

The Department of Health in Dublin has confirmed that no joint order has been placed for personal protective equipment from China in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Executive.

A spokeswoman said: "We are ready to discuss any area where we can co-operate effectively, North and South, including on procurement of PPE and critical supplies.

"In relation to procurement, while it has not so far proved possible to place a joint order in the context of what is an increasingly challenging international environment, discussions between procurement teams are ongoing and active, and it remains our intention to continue to co-operate in this area."


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UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that five million PPE products would be sent to Northern Ireland to help healthcare workers to deal with the outbreak.

Prisoners to be released

Around 100 prisoners will have been released from prisons in Northern Ireland by Monday under a new temporary release scheme due to Covid-19.

Since earlier this week, prisoners who met the required criteria, including having accommodation to go to, were allowed to leave facilities.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said the decision was made as it was necessary to ensure that staffing levels, which are already under strain, did not come under further pressure when there was a confirmed case of coronavirus in the prison population.

On Tuesday, the Northern Ireland Prison Service said it had 1,521 individuals in custody, 1,050 of whom have been sentenced and 471 of whom are on remand. 

Meanwhile, First Minister Arlene Foster has said she has confidence in Northern Ireland's health minister Robin Swann.

Ms Foster was speaking after deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill claimed yesterday that Mr Swann had been "too slow" to act on issues such as testing and PPE for healthcare staff.

She told the BBC: "They (department of health) have been working very hard on a whole range of areas including workforce recruitment, they have put out an appeal for more people to come forward, they have brought forward specific Northern Ireland modelling so that we can have live data to make decisions on, which is critically important.

"We have a network of private care Covid centres, we have the reconfiguration of our hospital services, including the tower block at the City Hospital being made into a Nightingale hospital, and all the while dealing with the pressures around making sure that we have enough personal protective equipment for our frontline workers, and indeed having enough testing capacity as well.

"We have to support each other to make sure that we all work together because it's the executive as a whole that has responsibility to deal with these matters.

"We have to collectively work together to make sure we put our best foot forward for all of the people of Northern Ireland."

Asked if she had confidence in Mr Swann, Ms Foster responded: "I do, yes."

Ms O'Neill stopped short of calling for Mr Swann to resign but criticised him for "slavishly following the Boris Johnson model", claiming Northern Ireland has been left "not as prepared as we could be".

Mr Swann's Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken criticised the deputy first minister's comments as "regrettable but not unexpected".