Tighter restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus in Northern Ireland’s north west are “inevitable”, Foyle MP Colum Eastwood has said.
Of 819 confirmed cases in the Derry and Strabane council area, 355 have been diagnosed in the past seven days.
The number of cases in the region per 100,000 people is almost three times that of the NI-wide figure.
SDLP leader Mr Eastwood said everyone in the region now “needs to be very careful”.
He discussed the surge in cases in the north west with Health Minister Robin Swann on Monday night.
“I firmly believe there are going to be more restrictions coming,” Mr Eastwood told
“I think that is inevitable but we don’t have to wait for more restrictions for each and every one of us individually to be very very careful, to restrict our movements or stay away from people who are vulnerable”.
The number of cases in the Derry and Strabane area has continued to rise sharply in recent days – it now has 235 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
The rate across Northern Ireland is 80 cases per 100,000, according to Department of Health figures.
Dr Tom Black, the chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in NI, has warned that complacency is driving the north west spike.
The Londonderry GP said people have not been adhering to public health guidance in “the way they need to”.
He expects an increase in people being admitted to hospital and patients needing intensive care in the coming weeks.
“We are in a phase where we know this is going to get a lot worse, we know that we are in a second wave, we know that we have to reduce transmission by adhering to the social distancing, face coverings, hand washing and masks,” he said.
“When I look around the town I don’t see people adhering to it the way they need to”.
He urged the public to reconnect with the public health guidance.
“I am fairly confident that this community, who did it very well first time around, will do it again”.
Despite people being tired and fed up, he added, “this has to be done again”.
Meanwhile a Derry hotelier said many businesses in the district will have to make “tough decisions” in the coming weeks due to the continued spread of the infection.
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Ciaran O’Neill is the owner of Bishop’s Gate Hotel. It is one of a number of businesses that have had to temporarily close after staff tested positive for the virus.
“I think all business are going to have to deal with it. We are one of many businesses in the same situation today. As the next week or 10 days goes on a lot of other businesses will have difficult decision to make about getting Covid under control,” he said.
Tighter localised restrictions in the County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland came into effect last Friday.
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