Northern Ireland’s coronavirus lockdown is to be extended for three more weeks, Arlene Foster has said.
The first minister said the executive had taken its decision after a lengthy meeting on Wednesday.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said now was the time to “dig in, to stay strong and save lives”.
The announcement came as six more people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland died in hospital in the past 24 hours.
It brings the number of hospital deaths in NI to 140.
Since Tuesday, there have been 121 new confirmed cases – the total number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland is 2,088, with 13,672 individuals tested.
The first minister said as Northern Ireland remained in the first wave of the virus, it was important to do “everything we can to reduce the peak”.
She said the lockdown restrictions would remain in place until the week of 5 May, and that the decision would be reviewed then based on the data.
From Friday, figures for the number of deaths in non-hospital settings are to be released.
The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said that, where possible, its weekly report would also state if the deaths took place in care homes.
- LIVE: Coronavirus in NI updates
Earlier, Health Minister Robin Swann said the Covid-19 modelling group’s work indicated the impact of the virus may now be “less severe in the first wave than we had feared”,
He told the Northern Ireland Assembly that while the majority of people in Northern Ireland were continuing to follow social distancing measures, modelling was by no means a certainty of what would happen next with the virus and he warned against complacency.
In other developments:
- The Northern Ireland economy is enduring its “fastest and deepest” decline ever, Ulster Bank’s chief economist has said
- More than 18,000 people in Northern Ireland have expressed an interest in the Department of Health’s NHS workforce appeal
- Increased testing is needed to provide clarity and better understanding of how coronavirus is affecting life in Northern Ireland, the coroner has said
- A phased lifting of lockdown restrictions on the island of Ireland is possible in the “near future” – but only when better Covid-19 detection measures are introduced, according to a medical expert