Advice As Coronavirus Outbreak Continues

A total of 35 tests for suspected coronavirus have been carried out in Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency has said.

No cases have been confirmed in the region with all tests coming back as negative as of today, Tuesday 19 February.

Despite the assurances, the health service is monitoring for possible cases of COVID-19 and issued advice for travellers.

Novel coronavirus has swept the world in recent weeks with over 75,000 cases confirmed, 1,000 of which are outside mainland China.

It has now killed over 2,000 people, all but six of them in mainland China.

The Public Health Agency is working with partners across the UK including Public Health England, as well as the Department of Health and health trusts in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on the ongoing global response.
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Dr Gerry Waldron, Head of Health Protection at the PHA, said: "Belfast Trust's Regional Viral Laboratory is now one of 12 UK centres testing for novel coronavirus. Until this week, all samples taken from people suspected of having the virus in Northern Ireland were sent to England for testing, but the new local facility will speed up results.

"A helpline has also been established for anyone in Northern Ireland who has travelled to China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Macau in the past 14 days. The helpline number is 0300 200 7885 and is available 24/7.

"To help reduce any potential spread of coronavirus, we are urging people to follow the steps that we recommend for similar illnesses such as cold and flu – catch it, bin it, kill it. Always carry tissues to catch your cough or sneeze, dispose of the tissue as soon as possible after using it, and clean your hands as soon as you can as germs can spread to every surface you touch."

Those who have travelled to the aforementioned areas should stay indoors and avoid contact with others for at least 14 days after they arrive. They should also contact their GP by phone and are advised not to attend a surgery or hospital without phoning ahead.

Anyone who is not registered with a GP is advised to contact their local Emergency Department.


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