There have been 669 further cases of Covid-19 reported by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. 

There has also been one further death reported, taking the number of people with Covid-19 who have died there to 585.

Cases of Covid-19 have been rising rapidly in Northern Ireland in recent weeks, with the total number of confirmed cases overall now at 15,359.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that there had been 616 new cases of Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours.

There are 85 confirmed Coronavirus patients in hospital today, up 21 on yesterday.

There are 13 patients in ICU, one more than yesterday. 

There have been 4,005 new cases during the past seven days. The  seven-day rate of infection per 100,000 for Northern Ireland is 212.8. 

The rate in Derry and Strabane is 581.4, while it is 320.2 in Newry, Mourne and Down and 281.9 in Belfast.

The Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill, has warned there are a "number of very big, tough decisions" for the Stormont Executive to take over the winter months.

"The figures speak for themselves when you look at the rise in the number of cases, it is very alarming," the Sinn Féin deputy leader told media at Stormont.

"We have tough decisions to take as an Executive in the coming weeks and months and I think all options need to be on the table because this is ultimately about how we protect our frontline health care workers, it's ultimately about how do we keep our children in schools, it's ultimately about how we are saving lives as we move through the pandemic.

"Throughout all this period we have had to weigh up the public health benefits, the economic concerns, the societal wellbeing concerns, people's mental health - all those things have to be in the mix.

"That is the tone of the conversation which we will have to have at the Executive this Thursday but I don't underestimate the task that we have as an Executive around what are the right measures to deploy at the right times with the best effect." 

Meanwhile, Queen's University in Belfast is "closely monitoring" an increase in coronavirus cases and has not ruled out introducing further measures to stem the spread.

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It has been reported that 166 students and staff at the south Belfast university have tested positive for Covid-19.

Around 25,000 students started back last month for the new academic year.

In a statement, the university said the safety and well-being of staff and students is its "first priority", and a "range of interventions" have been made across campus.

"The university is liaising with the Public Health Agency (PHA) on a daily basis to ensure the university is continuing to apply the correct measures to limit the spread of infection," a spokesperson said.

"Although the number of staff and students affected remains a minority, the increase in number of positive cases is a concern and the university fully appreciates that this may cause anxiety for students, staff, and their families.

"Queen's is closely monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to apply additional measures to further protect members of our community as considered necessary in discussions with the PHA."

The university went on to detail that evidence gathered through contact tracing has indicated that transmission of the virus is happening in social or accommodation settings.

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has urged the university authorities to ensure their messaging is clear.

"Queen's University must do all within its powers to ensure students in its accommodation are informed of all procedures in place to keep students and others safe," he said.

"Effective communication is key and I would urge university authorities to ensure their messaging is clear and being received and understood by students."

Mr O'Dowd also urged Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Health Minister Robin Swann to bring forward Covid-19 advice for students through the Public Health Agency.