Northern Ireland's Health Minister Robin Swann has made another request for military assistance in the battle against Covid-19.

Health authorities there have asked for up to 100 British military medics to be deployed to help hospitals deal with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

The British Military of Defence has confirmed that it is considering a request from Stormont's Department of Health to send a team of medics next month.

It is hoped the personnel could be deployed between Belfast City Hospital and the Ulster Hospital from October.

The military has already provided significant support in the fight against Covid-19, including the creation of a huge emergency mortuary, storage, logistics advice for the setting up of mass vaccination centres and combat medical technicians (CMTs) supporting staff at three hospitals during the second surge in January to February 2021.

Around 100 CMTs also worked at the vaccination centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast earlier this year.

In a statement, Mr Swann described the health service as "under pressure as never before", adding that staff are "exhausted".

"I am determined to activate any measure that can alleviate the situation in any way," he said.

Five further deaths of patients who tested positive for the virus were reported in Northern Ireland today.

A further 1,071 new confirmed cases have also been reported.

In his statement, Mr Swann said that he was "deeply concerned" about the pressures health staff are facing.

He said: "The current situation is different to the pressures in the earlier stages of the pandemic. We have the ongoing and serious Covid threat combined with a growing pressure cooker environment right across health and social care.

"Staff are exhausted, having been facing the pandemic and its repercussions day in, day out, month in, month out, for the best part of two years.

"I am very well aware of just how tough it is. The system simply doesn't have the capacity to deal with the levels of need and demand coming in.

"Strenuous efforts are being made to mitigate the pressures and to plan for winter."

Military medics have been sent to Northern Ireland on two previous occasions to help doctors treat Covid patients and to administer vaccine jabs.

This morning, there were 425 Covid-19 patients in hospital in Northern Ireland, with 38 in intensive care.
A total of 2,501,235 vaccines have been administered there.

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