More than 70% of the adult population in Northern Ireland received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Health Minister Robin Swan said more than 40% of the population had received full vaccinations.
He also announced that in order to maintain the momentum of the program, vaccination will be extended to the age group of 18 to 24 years “in the very near future”.
“Along with vaccination, contact tracing, testing and self-isolation after a positive test, they remain the cornerstones of our ongoing public health response,” said Mr. Swan.
“I would like once again to appeal to the public to work with us and continue to play their role in preventing the spread of the virus.
“This is how we keep each other safe and protect the hard-won progress we have made.”
Rapid tests are actively offered to a range of the workforce and sectors of the economy.
Additionally, members of the public can now access these exams for free.
It can be ordered online and delivered to home addresses, or it can be collected from a number of locations.
Mr. Swan said testing, vaccination and contact tracing should be seen as “vital lines of defense against Covid-19”.
“ Besides, we must continue to adhere to the fundamentals of public health, social distancing, limit contact with others, wear face coverings, and wash our hands regularly.
“Always remember that outdoor spaces are safer than inside and that ventilation, a good source of fresh air, can reduce risks indoors.
Leave windows and doors open as much as possible and avoid cramped and crowded spaces.
The day marked the eighth consecutive day in Northern Ireland as no deaths were reported in patients who previously tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.
The Ministry of Health said that another 66 positive cases had been confirmed, while there were 28 patients with Covid virus in hospital, including two in intensive care.
Wastewater is being tested to track cases of Covid-19
Sewage is being tested in Northern Ireland to track cases of Covid-19.
Sewage is being tested for the presence of the virus in a step we hope will follow it more effectively than relying on all those infected with the virus to take the test.
An estimated 38% of Northern Ireland’s wastewater is being tested at 13 different sites to indicate the location of the virus, including variants.
Coverage is planned to extend to 70% with testing at 40 different sites.
It is a new technology both in Northern Ireland and across the UK, said Deputy Medical Director Dr Lourda Geojejan.
“We are using wastewater monitoring to help and direct where we may want to do more tests on humans in certain populations,” she said. “It’s a new technology and it serves us well.”
“We rely on case knowledge by symptomatic people to come forward and get tested or who are participating in a regular asymptomatic testing program.
“ The benefit of monitoring wastewater is that regular testing of the water tells us about a geographical area whether there is Covid in the area or not, and secondly it can tell us if there is a variable of concern in a particular area.
“The results can be sharpened into a fairly small geographic area to help us then inform, plan, and work on what we will do further human tests.
“It is a new program, and it is a new program in many parts of the United Kingdom, so the way it is used and the benefit is evolving and we are learning all the time.”
According to the latest data, 15 cases of the variant that was first detected in India were confirmed in Northern Ireland, and nine cases of the so-called South African variant and no cases of the variant were detected for the first time in Brazil.
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