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Best tribute to COVID victims is to continue following the public health advice, says Long

The best way to pay tribute to those who have died of COVID-19 is to continue to follow the public health advice, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

Mrs Long was speaking after Alliance MLAs participated in a minute’s silence as part of the Day of Reflection in the Assembly, to remember everyone who has died during the pandemic, on the anniversary of the first UK lockdown.

“One year on from the first lockdown, firstly we must pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives throughout this pandemic,” she said.

“On this day and every day throughout this period, my sympathies are with their loved ones, as they have been throughout this period, the greatest public health crisis in generations. It is something none of us have experienced before and I truly hope we never have to again. I feel a particular sadness for those who have died, whether of COVID or other causes, and were unable in many cases to say goodbye to their family or friends, and for those unable to bid farewell to loved ones how they would normally.

“As well as those who have passed away, we have also seen other direct consequences of COVID-19, including an increase in domestic abuse, rising mental health cases and job losses for many. But the past year has also shown the best of our community. We have come together like never before, expressing kindness, compassion and understanding, while showing a new appreciation for key and front-line workers.

“As the vaccine roll-out continues, the best way we can all pay tribute to those who have lost their lives is following the health advice – washing your hands, wearing face masks when required and maintaining social distancing – to help us emerge from the worst of this pandemic and return to normal life.”