Michael Staines
Michael Staines

07.40 9 Apr 2020


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The British and Irish governments will discuss the coronavirus crisis with Northern Ireland's political leaders today.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and the UK's Northern secretary, Brandon Lewis, will chair the conference call.

The North's first and deputy first ministers will also participate, along with the health ministers from north and south.

The Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Stormont Executive this week pledging to strengthen cooperation in response to the virus.

Harris COVID-19 The Minister for Health Simon Harris at a COVID-19 briefing, 04-04-2020. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

All-Ireland response

The Health Minister Simon Harris said all sides are working towards a strong all-Ireland response to the virus.

“It is a chance to just continue to share information and make sure we keep on working together,” he said.

“We are one island. The virus doesn’t respect different jurisdictions or borders or anything else and it is important we continue to work together.

“As you know, we signed a memorandum of understanding this week to say that we want to work even closer together.”

Restrictions

It comes as the Chief Medical Officer warned that the current COVID-19 restrictions may remain in place for some time to come.

Minister Harris Harris said there will be more clarity on the restrictions tomorrow.

“The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet again on Friday and it will review all of the restrictions in place as well,” he said.

“But let me be honest with you because I have been honest with you on this from the start, I think it is very unlikely that the restrictions will be lifted or changed.

“We are making some progress but we are not where we yet need to be. I think we are in for another few weeks of a challenging time for all of us in our own homes.”

Twenty-five further COVID-19 patients were confirmed dead in the Republic yesterday alongside 5 in the North – bringing the total on the island to 313.

Meanwhile the number of confirmed cases north and south stands at 7,413.


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