A one-night meeting of the Stonemont executive was adjourned tonight in the hope that Northern Ireland would face the possibility of a circuit break lockdown.
The meeting was held after 9.30 pm to discuss how to address the Kovid-19 infection rate in the region.
A newspaper issued by Health Minister Robin Swann has warned that the virus could continue to spread if schools and the hospitality sector remain open.
Department of Health # Kovid-19 The dashboard has been updated with the latest data.
In the last 24 hours, 863 individuals tested Kovid-19 positive. Four deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, and three deaths have been reported outside this period.https://t.co/YN16dmGzhv pic.twitter.com/vf1xXMko00
– Department of Health (@healthdpt) October 13, 2020
The discussion was immediately adjourned after SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallan asked for time to study the recommendations.
The meeting resumed after 11pm on Tuesday night.
If the ministers agree to impose new restrictions on the region, they are likely to sit late at night in the Stonemont Assembly for four weeks, so the MLAs can explain the steps.
The weekly meeting of the Powershare Administration, to be held on Thursday, was brought forward on Tuesday as an indication of the urgency of the situation.
It is understandable that there is a contradiction between the two main parties in the alliance, the DUP and Sinn Fin, as to how long schools should be closed during any period of lockdown.
A compromise point could be that schools are closed for two weeks – a period that includes a Halloween mid-term break.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Arlene Foster said decisions would not be easy.
“Some said it was about health and wealth. I think this is a completely wrong analysis. Poverty kills and unemployment kills,” she said.
“So making sure we interact with Covid-19 is a balanced operation, but we try to protect and safeguard our economy, protect our community as we know it, and family life as we know it.
“These are big decisions, not easy.”
The Department of Health reported seven deaths and 863 cases in Kovid-19.
In the last seven days, 6,286 new positive cases were detected, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 21,898.
There are currently 150 patients in hospitals with Kovid-19, including 23 in the intensive care unit.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the intensive care unit at Nightingale Hospital in Northern Ireland had reopened in response to an increase in Kovid admissions in Belfast.
The facility does not yet exist locally, but will accept Covid-19 patients being treated in the Belfast Trust area.
All 105 surgeries planned at Belfast Trust and Musgrave Park Hospital have been canceled for the next two weeks to free officials in response to a deteriorating corona virus condition.
The worst affected areas in Northern Ireland are Derry City and Strabaine County. 970 cases per lakh people in the last seven days.
This area is currently subject to strict Kovid-19 restrictions compared to other areas.
The Northwest rate is double the next highest rate, at 462 per lakh in Belfast.
Mid-Ulster currently has a rate of 401, up from 315 per lakh in the Nure, Morne and Da Council areas.
The Mid and East Antrim remain the least infected areas, at 95 per lakh.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael McBride and Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Ian Young have already recommended a lockdown lasting four to six weeks.
The goal is to lower the reproduction rate of the virus in each person diagnosed with an additional infection.
Ministers have been warned that the R rate is unlikely to fall below one if schools and hospitality reopen.
Senior health officials have demanded that the school be closed for a period of time within the lockdown.
She said action needs to be taken within days and that the six-week lockdown gives Northern Ireland the best chance to get there without another need.
Miss Foster indicated Monday that she does not support the closure of schools.