The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has confirmed an additional 913 cases of Covid-19, as well as three more deaths.

The total number of virus-related deaths now stands at 624, while the total number of confirmed cases is 28,953.

Of the new cases, 220 were recorded in Belfast, which has once again seen the largest increase in the number of new infections.

Derry and Strabane recorded 147 new cases, followed by the Causeway Coast and Glens on 87.

In the last seven days, 6,850 new cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland.

There are now 286 people with Covid-19 in hospital in Northern Ireland, 29 of them are in intensive care units.

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Meanwhile, a DUP MLA has branded longer school closures advocated by some ministers in the Stormont Executive as "child abuse".

Paul Givan highlighted the negative impact on young people's educational prospects as he claimed several ministers were using children in the "most appalling way".

Schools closed yesterday for two weeks as part of the executive's four-week intensification of coronavirus restrictions.

The move has seen the Halloween mid-term holiday extended by an extra week.

It is understood Sinn Féin was in favour of closing schools for between four to six weeks, with the two-week closure ultimately agreed by the executive representing a compromise struck with the DUP.

Mr Givan told the Assembly the impact of the extended school closure during the first lockdown had been "devastating" for some children.

"That's why I am so frustrated that some members of the executive wanted to shut our schools down for six weeks and then four weeks," he said.

"I tell you, I'm looking at the impact this is having on children and it's child abuse what has taken place, and they are using children in the most appalling way."

Mr Givan questioned the rationale for closing when Stormont's medical and scientific advisers had flagged concerns not around schools themselves, but with the associated traffic and human interaction outside the gates.

The Lagan Valley representative also defended his party and constituency colleague Edwin Poots amid controversy over his claim that Covid-19 is more rife in nationalist areas than unionist ones.

He said the agriculture minister's remarks were made in a "sensible manner".

Mr Givan claimed Sinn Féin members were "blinded" to the reality and insisted Mr Poots had not brought the issue of religion into the debate.

Sinn Féin's Caoimhe Archibald criticised Mr Givan's contribution during an Assembly budget debate.

"I think there is no place for finger pointing at sections of our communities," she said.

"So let's not muddy the waters with [a] mixed message and scapegoating people."