Health News

Northern Ireland sees further record COVID-19 surge

FILE PHOTO: The Stop COVID NI app used for contact tracing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Northern Ireland is displayed on a mobile phone, as it is held up for an illustration photograph July 31, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/Illustration/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Northern Ireland reported a record number of daily cases of COVID-19 for the fourth time in six days on Wednesday, a day after the regional government introduced less strict closing times for pubs than the rest of the United Kingdom.

The smallest of the UK’s four nations reported 424 new infections, almost matching the five-month high in daily cases reported across the open border in Ireland on Sunday.

Ireland, however, has almost three times the population.

Northern Ireland’s seven-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 population has almost doubled to 103.6 from 58.1 in the last week, health department data showed.

The highest seven-day rate of 323.3 was recorded in the border region of Derry City and Strabane. The highest local rate in Ireland is in the adjoining area of Lifford-Stranorlar, where county-wide restrictions were imposed last week, including the closure of all indoor dining.

Northern Ireland extended restrictions in some areas earlier this month across the whole region last week, ordering households to mix with only one other select household indoors.

Pubs that only serve drinks were allowed to reopen in Northern Ireland last week for the first time since March but told to bring forward their closure to 11 p.m. local time, later than the 10 p.m. time in England, Wales and Scotland.

The UK reported 7,143 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the highest single figure to date.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne