09 September 2020 16:41
Image copyright Reuters Image caption NI's coronavirus case rate per 100K population is the highest across the UK. Health officials in NI are considering a range of options which could see changes to the rules around social gatherings, the BBC understands. The executive would make that decision, but it would be based on advice from health officials including the chief medical and scientific officers. There is growing concern about the rising number of Covid-19 cases - especially amongst younger people. Forty-nine more people have been diagnosed in NI the last 24 hours.
The Department of Health reported no further coronavirus-related deaths. Northern Ireland's case rate per 100K population is the highest across the UK. According to the latest statistics used by Northern Ireland's Chief Scientific Officer Prof Ian Young, the UK's 14-day cumulative total of cases per 100,000 is approximately 22, while Northern Ireland's is more than 35. England's figure would have influenced the government's decision to limit social gatherings to six or fewer with some exceptions from Monday in England. The law change will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors. The Department of Health in Northern Ireland said any decisions would be made by the Executive. Will Stormont follow suit? The fact that Northern Ireland's figure is much higher is bound to influence how the Executive decides to act. But if the Department of Health's proposals do not include changes to regulations around the entertainment sector, and weddings and funerals, they might agree just to target household gatherings. Reducing the numbers around indoor social gatherings will target house parties particularly those involving students. Cases on the rise amongst young people As universities start to reopen and with the prospect of freshers' week just around the corner, the health minister has asked the public to act responsibly. Governments are most concerned about younger age groups as they are socialising the most. While a majority can cope with having the virus, there is the danger they are passing it on to older family members. A press briefing is expected to take place at Stormont later this afternoon.