There have been a further seven deaths linked to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of deaths there to 70.

The Public Health Agency also announced another 69 confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases diagnosed to 1,158.

Speaking following this evening's figures, First Minister Arlene Foster said most people in Northern Ireland were observing social distancing guidance.

"It is essential in this critical period that we do not relax our guard, especially in the lead-up to and during the Easter period."

She said ministers would continue to work with private businesses which are shifting production lines to make protective equipment.

She expressed hope the testing of healthcare staff at Belfast's SSE Arena will free up more frontline NHS staff to treat Covid-19 patients.


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Stormont deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill said there would be a rapid scaling up of testing and they were expanding the categories of those who would be eligible.

There would also be increased checking of healthcare workers and better population surveillance.

She added: "We are moving into Easter weekend, the weather is getting fine.

"Please don't treat it as a holiday. Let's keep going, we still have to fight right through until we get out the other side of this."

She added: "We are doing it to try to save lives."

Meanwhile, in Britain, the Department of Health said that, as of 9am today, 208,837 people have been tested for Covid-19 of which 51,608 tested positive.

Over 5,373 deaths linked to the virus have been recorded across the UK.