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PARTNERS will be soon allowed to attend baby scans, but will have to wear a face mask, it has been announced.
Northern Ireland's Health Minister Robin Swann made the announcement today while speaking at the Executive's Covid-19 briefing.
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He said women in Northern Ireland will be able to be accompanied by their partners throughout their pregnancy – from ultrasounds to labour and post-natal care.
Mr Swann said that women having to attend baby scans alone was "an issue about which I have been particularly mindful in recent weeks".
He added those scans "a hugely important experience, not only for the mother, but also for the father".
He said: "As such, under the revised guidance birth partners will be facilitated to accompany pregnant women to scans, anomaly scans, to the induction of labour and the duration of labour, for birth, and to visit in ante-natal and post-natal wards as appropriate."
Mr Swann also announced that visits to hospitals and care homes could resume from next Monday.
In hospital wards and intensive care units one person will be allowed to visit a patient at any one time, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
In coronavirus-free care homes, two people will be allowed to visit a resident at the same time.
The visits will resume providing that visitors wear face coverings and social distancing measures are adhered to.
The Health Minister acknowledged that it had been difficult for people not to be able to visit their loved ones during the pandemic.
However, he stressed that all visitors will be required to wear face coverings and those with symptoms of infection – even if those symptoms are mild or unconfirmed – should not visit.
The announcement comes after the Department of Health said there had been no further deaths due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
Today it was also announced that people will be able to visit Scottish hospitals again from July 13.
Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said patients in non-coronavirus wards will be allowed to see one named visitor with social distancing and strict hygiene measures in place.
Residents in care homes will be permitted to receive garden visits from a single named person from July 3.
Care homes have been badly hit by the virus, accounting for more deaths linked to Covid-19 than hospitals.
But Ms Freeman said "significant progress" had been made in recent weeks.
She added: "I know how difficult it has been for people not being able to visit loved ones in hospital during the pandemic.
"It is one of the many sacrifices you have made and I want to thank you for that.
"Visiting has important benefits for patients health and wellbeing and I hope families across Scotland who have a loved one in hospital right now will welcome this announcement.”
The National Records of Scotland have tallied 1,917 deaths in care homes linked to the virus, compared to 1,909 in hospitals, although deaths in all settings have fallen sharply since April.
Scotland reported three deaths of people with Covid-19 today after a run of four straight days with zero deaths.
The lockdown is also being eased in England as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that pubs, restaurants, hotels and campsites will be able to open from July 4.
The PM also today gave the green light for Brits to book staycations from July 4 by allowing hotels and B&Bs to reopen.
People in England will be able to have sleepovers and stay with family or friends from July 4, but they will still have to keep their distance.
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