A further 11 people with Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, bringing the overall death toll there to 1,050.

An additional 419 new cases have also been confirmed by the Department of Health there, taking the cumulative total to 55,047.

There are 413 confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital, with 30 in ICU, 24 of whom are on ventilators.

The average seven-day infection rate per 100,000 for Northern Ireland is 157.2. Mid and East Antrim council area has the highest rate at 237.4 while Ards and North Down has lowest with 92.

The figures come as the president of the epidemiology and public health section of Britain's Royal Society of Medicine warned that the decision to ease Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland this Friday could result in record numbers of infections in the New Year.

Professor Gabriel Scally said he did not think the decision was wise. Northern Ireland has much higher rates of infection and deaths than the Republic.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics programme, Prof Scally said he believed "the aftermath of Christmas will not be good".

Stormont's chief medical and scientific advisers have warned that further restrictions will be required if there is, as anticipated, a spike in the number of cases after restrictions are eased this Friday.

At that point non-essential retail will reopen after a two-week closure. Most of the hospitality sector, apart from pubs that only sell alcohol, will also reopen after being closed since October.

Close contact services like hairdressers are among other businesses to open again in the North.

"I think the lifting of these restrictions can only have one effect, it can only make the virus circulate even more widely," Prof Scally warned.

"The numbers will go up, there is no doubt about it, and that [will turn] into hospital admissions and that [will turn] into deaths."

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He said that just because the Stormont Executive has said the public can do some things they previously could not, it does not mean it is a good idea to do so.

The professor urged people not to have large family gatherings at Christmas, but to instead "save your hugs for Easter."

He said a period of tighter restrictions will be needed to get the number of infections back down again.

"That's just bad news, what a way to start a New Year, one that should be optimistic and joyful because the vaccine is coming, and we're likely to go into this New Year with record numbers of cases again. That's not a good prospect."