The Chief Medical Officer in Northern Ireland has advised the public to prepare for a potential second lockdown

Michael McBride did not rule out a short intensive lockdown, known as a circuit breaker

Stormont, Belfast

Northern Ireland to prepare for possible second lockdown

The Chief Medical Officer of Northern Ireland, Michael McBride, has advised the public to prepare for a potential second lockdown adding that wider restrictions may need to put in place which may include a circuit breaker.

The Stormont Executive announced local restrictions for the Derry City & Strabane Council area yesterday in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19.

They include hospitality businesses limited to takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining, and a call to avoid unnecessary travel.

Dr McBride said further restrictions are likely in the coming weeks if the coronavirus numbers continue to rise, and did not rule out a short intensive lockdown, known as a circuit breaker, according to RTÉ.

"I do believe that we need to plan and prepare and look at options around a so-called circuit breaker," he told the BBC.

"For us to get through the next number of months we may well need to apply further restrictions, perhaps for a short period of a couple of weeks ... and then if the virus starts to increase again we may need to reapply some of those wider further restrictions.

"It is crucially important that we keep on top of this virus and we deploy all of the tools in our toolbox.

"There is no magic bullet here, no hammer that you can take out that will suppress this virus; it is about the combination of interventions, restrictions that reduce mixing between people.

"There may come a point, if we see very significant transmission at a Northern Ireland level, that we need to move away from local restrictions to wider restrictions at a Northern Ireland level, and that may include a circuit breaker."

"We have a very narrow window now to act, the consequences would be profound if we don't," he added.

The increase in numbers of those testing positive in Derry city and Strabane is deeply worrying, he said.

Numbers in the Belfast, Newry, Mourne & Down, and Mid Ulster Council areas are also rising.

He added that the number of new cases are doubling every nine days. The number of admissions to hospital is doubling every nine days. The medical expert said that the people of northern Ireland could be back to wave-one numbers of people in our hospitals with Covid-19 as early as three weeks from now.

"We have a very, very short window of opportunity to put in place wider restrictions to actually stop the spread of this virus."

Yesterday, First Minister Arlene Foster said any new period of full lockdown in Northern Ireland should only happen as part of a co-ordinated move across the UK.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said a lockdown, if it were to be required, should be undertaken across the island of Ireland.

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