Northern Ireland's health minister has urged caution after no coronavirus linked deaths were reported for the first time in over ten weeks.

Robin Swann warned of catastrophic consequences if people start to believe that the battle against Covid-19 has been won and become complacent.

The first coronavirus fatality in Northern Ireland was reported on 18 March.

This is the first day since then that the Department of Health at Stormont has not recorded a death linked to the disease.

"We have all been waiting for a day like this," Mr Swann said at the start of his media briefing this afternoon.

"However, I have a serious note of caution. There are no grounds whatsoever for complacency. That would be an insult to all those who have sadly lost their lives and to all those who are mourning them.

"Covid-19 is still infecting people in our community. Sadly, there will be more lives lost in the days and week ahead."

Mr Swann said the declining number of infections and deaths was a testament to those who had remained at home and followed health guidance.

He said he will not consider reducing the two-metre distance rule at this stage.

He also urged people not to be distracted by the continuing controversy surrounding Dominic Cummings, the special advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnston.

"It is far too early to allow distractions to take away from the key public messages," Mr Swann said.

"A second wave of the virus is also widely expected in the months ahead, so we must keep fighting back, we must keep our defences up at all times.

"Actions have consequences, so don't let someone you love, or someone you don't know, suffer the consequences of your actions."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has described the news as "heartening" but she also warned against complacency.

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The official Department of Health toll for coronavirus linked deaths in Northern Ireland, which is published on a daily basis, is currently 514.

The figures are for deaths that occur within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19.

However, more comprehensive figures compiled by the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency (Nisra), published on a weekly basis, suggest the actual death toll is much higher.

Those figures include all occasions where coronavirus is mentioned on a death certificate, whether or not the deceased was tested for coronavirus.

The most recent Nisra figures, up to 15 May, recorded 664 deaths potentially linked to coronavirus.

Mr Swann also said a recent watchdog inspection has prompted urgent intervention at a 100-bed nursing home in Belfast that caters for older people with dementia.

Discussions with a potential new care provider for Clifton Nursing Home are ongoing, the health trust has said.

A regulator of standards has warned that patients and staff could be put at risk due to problems surrounding infection prevention.

A Belfast Health and Social Care Trust statement said: "Discussions are ongoing with a potential new provider and the Trust will continue to review the residents' needs, with the full involvement of their families to inform ongoing care."

In the Republic of Ireland, the group that represents private nursing homes has come under fire for claiming that the industry was left isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional reporting by PA