Act responsibly at all times - Minister issues weekend plea

Health Minister Robin Swann has urged everyone across Northern Ireland to stay safe and remain vigilant against Covid-19 this weekend.

The Minister stressed that our battle against the virus remains finely balanced.

He stated: “Another weekend is upon us and the weather forecast is very good. That brings with it the risk that people will flood outdoors and forget the social distancing rules that have saved countless lives.

“I am therefore urging everyone to keep doing the right thing. Keep your distance and keep washing your hands.

“Enjoy the weekend by all means – but act responsibly at all times.

“Don’t ever underestimate Covid-19. It still poses a very deadly threat to you and to those you care about.

“We can beat this virus - but only if we keep taking it seriously and stay united against it.”

The Department of Health will be publishing the current reproduction number (R) on its website each week.

The current estimate of R is 0.8 – 1.0.

It is important to model the COVID-19 epidemic in Northern Ireland in order to plan the delivery of Health and Social Care services and to inform decision making with regard to social distancing and other restrictions.   

Central to this modelling is estimating the Reproduction Number (R).  R is the number of individuals who, on average, will be infected by a single person with the infection.  R does not have a fixed value and varies with time.  It is likely to be different every day.

There are different ways of calculating R and a number of different values for R each day are produced. That is why the number is being published in the form of banding.

When R is above 1, the transmission of the epidemic will increase, resulting in more cases, hospital admissions and deaths.  The greater the value of R above 1, the more rapid the increase.  When R is below 1, there will be a fall in the number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths.   The further R is below 1, the more rapid the fall will be.  

The Executive has indicated that keeping R below 1 is a key objective as we move forward in the epidemic.

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