The first death from coronavirus in Northern Ireland has been confirmed.
The patient was elderly, had an underlying medical condition and was being treated in a hospital in the greater Belfast area.
First Minister Arlene Foster said it was a “sad day for Northern Ireland” and “we knew this pandemic would inevitably cost precious lives”.
The patient was among the 68 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.
There are currently 366 confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland after 74 new cases were announced on Wednesday, with two deaths being recorded.
‘Play their part’
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill paid tribute to the “amazing health workers who are doing everything they can to provide the best possible care for people in the most difficult circumstances”.
Health Minister Robin Swann appealed to everyone to “play their part in fighting the spread of this virus”.
NI Secretary Brandon Lewis said he was very sorry to hear the news of the death and would continue to work closely with the NI Executive to do “whatever it takes to get through this together”.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that a limited number of schools in Northern Ireland will open from Monday for the children of healthcare workers.
First Minister Arlene Foster announced on Wednesday that schools across Northern Ireland would close to pupils from Monday due to the coronavirus pandemic,
Education Minister Peter Weir said on Thursday that after next week the scheme will be expanded to the children of other key staff, citing haulage workers as an example.
He said a list of key workers was being compiled.
For other pupils, Mr Weir emphasised that there “will be teaching through online resources”.
“The aim throughout this process is for teaching to continue, and for teaching to continue to the end of the academic year on this basis,” he said.
“If you’re a health care worker, working for the health service, it is likely that there will be that availability, we can accommodate that.
“In terms of key workers for overall Northern Ireland plc what we will be doing is working with each department very quickly to establish the list of categories of key workers.
“Schools will be contacted, because they have the data on every parent.
“They will be contacting parents on the basis of ‘do you fit into one of these categories, do you want to avail of a place?'”
Teaching staff and parents have called for clarity on what that means for GCSE and A-Level exams, as well as remote learning.
‘Where will our children go?
Justin McCamphill, from the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, said he was “slightly clearer” after hearing from Mr Weir.
“We need to bear in mind as well that many of those teachers have children as well who will be off school,” he said.
“And we need to ask the question if we are looking after the healthcare workers children, where will our children go?”
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has said that contingency planning meetings will take place on Thursday and into next week as schools prepare for closure.
The NAHT President Geri Cameron says the system is in “relatively unchartered waters”.
Ms Cameron told Good Morning Ulster on Thursday that pupils remained at the “forefront of everybody’s thoughts”.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mrs Foster, standing alongside Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, said now was the right time to shut schools.
“We have agreed that all schools will close to pupils from Monday 23 March,” Mrs Foster said.
“The societal and economic impact of this measure will be enormous as parents have to adjust their routine to deal with this unplanned long-term closure.”
Schools in England, Scotland and Wales will close from Friday.
A number of NI schools had already decided to close for the rest of this week. Some are listed on the NI Direct website.