This week has seen the first easing of restrictions to lockdown by the Northern Ireland Executive with more people being allowed to meet outdoors and the return of some sports approved.

Meanwhile Department of Health figures as of yesterday, Wednesday, showed that there have been 494 deaths of people who had a positive test for Covid-19. The real death toll due to Covid-19 is significantly higher however and the Department’s figures do not include deaths where there was no positive test.

The most accurate figures available for total deaths come from the Norther Ireland Statistical Research Agency who’s figures show that up to May 8 that there had been 599 Covid-19 deaths in Northern Ireland. The Department figures for the same deaths showed 432 deaths.

It means that the total number of deaths related to Covd-19 at present is likely to be close to if not over 700 people.

The NISRA figures showed that for the first time since data was first collated for Covid-19 deaths that there was a reduction in the number of deaths in a one week period across Northern Ireland’s care homes, down from 72 for the week ending May 1 to 36 for week ending May 8.

The latest NISRA figures also showed that the most accurate death count in Fermanagh and Omagh for Covid-19 related illness stands at 16, an increase of six from what the Department had reported had died with positive results.

In relation to positive test results Fermanagh and Omagh still have the fewest of all 11 council areas with 79 positive tests with Derry City and Strabane Council next lowest with 163 tests. Belfast, as expected, has the most positive tests with 378.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland executive has announced more easing to the current lockdown with groups of six people who do not share a household being allowed to meet outdoors from this week.

That is just one of the restrictions that ministers have agreed to ease as part of the first step of their recovery plan. It has been emphasised however that social distancing must be maintained.

Churches will now be able to open for private prayer while some sports, such as golf and tennis, can also begin from this week. In addition drive-in church services and drive-in cinemas will also be permitted.

Garden centres and recycling centres have been allowed to also with fishing also being allowed to recommence.

The restrictions will be kept under constant review by the executive and respective ministers.

First Minister Arlene Foster speaking this week acknowledged that people would be disappointed that restrictions on visiting loved ones indoors had not been lifted.

Announcing the easing of restrictions Mrs. Foster said she understood that would be disappointing for some people, but she gave a “commitment” to keep the restriction under constant review.

“We would have liked to unlock the whole of step one but, quite simply, the reason why we haven’t been able to move to indoor family gatherings is because of the medical advice,” said Mrs. Foster.

“The relaxations we’ve announced have been made made possible by the vast majority of you following advice. They have been hard-won freedoms and it’s vital when you exercise them, it doesn’t put anyone else’s safety at risk,” Mrs. Foster concluded.