There were no Covid-19 deaths in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours, the North’s Department of Health reported on Thursday afternoon, leaving the fatality toll at 556.

This was the seventeenth consecutive day that zero coronavirus deaths were recorded in the North.

There were eight new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 5,938.

So far 141,172 people have been tested in the North for Covid-19.

The North’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said while the incidence of coronavirus was low it had increased in recent weeks.

He told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show that at the start of July the average number of cases was four per day but that had now increased to more than ten.

This illustrated that the virus was still active in the community and made measures like social distancing and the wearing of face coverings in enclosed spaces more important.

Meanwhile, Dr McBride and the chief medical officers in England, Scotland and Wales, have decided that people who test positive for Covid-19 or show symptoms of the virus must self-isolate for at least ten days. Hitherto it was seven days.

In a statement on Thursday the four chief medical officers said that evidence “although still limited, has strengthened and shows that people with Covid-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset”.

They said, “We have considered how best to target interventions to reduce risk to the general population and consider that at this point in the epidemic, with widespread and rapid testing available and considering the relaxation of other measures, it is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have symptoms or a positive test result.”

The doctors added, “This will help provide additional protection to others in the community. This is particularly important to protect those who have been shielding and in advance of the autumn and winter when we may see increased community transmission.”

This content was originally published here.