A further 1,012 individuals have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours and the virus has been linked to the deaths of five more people.

It brings the total number of confirmed cases there to 27,220 while the death toll stands at 615.

Some 7,090 new positive cases have been notified in the last seven days. There are 228 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals in Northern Ireland with 30 in intensive care.

It was also revealed that four prison officers based at the Hydebank Wood facility for women and young offenders in south Belfast have tested positive for the virus.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service said a further 14 staff who tested negative are self-isolating and two prisoners have also been put into isolation.

Prison visits were temporarily suspended on Friday as tough new restrictions came into force in Northern Ireland aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes are closed for the next four weeks, apart from takeaway and deliveries. Hair and beauty salons are also shut and schools are closed for two weeks.

Trade union Unison has urged the Stormont Executive to ensure health workers are not left at a financial loss if they need to take time off to care for children as a result of school closures.

A spokesman emphasised that the health workforce is "predominantly female" and thousands have caring responsibilities so cannot work from home.

"Our members - nurses, domiciliary care staff, caterers, domestics and health care assistants - should not have to choose between paying a bill or using that money to pay for additional costs for childcare."


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Meanwhile a Belfast business owner has expressed frustration with Stormont over what he called a "lack of clarity and support" regarding the tough new coronavirus restrictions.

Hair salon owner Jeff Faulkner said he feels his sector has been forgotten about, and urged further clarity over the new rules as well as financial support.

Hair salons were closed for several months during lockdown, reopening in July. Now Mr Faulkner said they have been closed again, this time with "less than 48 hours' notice".

He has contended the industry is "not being heard or listened to", with the focus instead on hospitality.

"This is a devastating blow to our business coming, as it does, so close to our busiest time of the year and with our reserves already depleted by the first enforced closure," he said.

Mr Faulkner said businesses understand the need to slow the increase of Covid-19 cases, but said decisions taken by the Executive appear "chaotic, confusing and do not appear to have been thought through".

"Where is the science that says hairdressers are less safe than gyms or churches? Salon staff all wear PPE, clients wear masks, wash hands, and wash stations both before and after each client," he said.

Additional reporting: PA