16/03/2020

Covid-19: Seven Further Cases Confirmed

Seven further cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing totals to 52.

It comes amid continued controversy over whether schools should follow suit with the Republic of Ireland and close their doors.

Several local schools have taken the option to close along with bars and restaurants across the region.

Queen's University Belfast is to begin delivering all lecture material remotely, while the Belfast City Marathon and Half Marathon have been cancelled.

The total number of tests completed at present in Northern Ireland is 1,171, 52 of which have returned positive results.

People with mild symptoms - a new persistent cough and/or fever - should stay at home and self-isolate. They will not require testing and will not therefore be included in testing totals.

Speaking on Monday, Health Minister Robin Swann said all options are on the table when it comes to the protection of citizens.

While school closures are imminent, the Minister said timing is crucial at this stage.
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"If it was just a question of shutting everything down for a limited period, then we would have already done it. It's sadly not that straightforward. Coronavirus is in our community, it's in neighbouring countries too and across our inter-connected world. It would still be there waiting for us to re-emerge from any shutdown.

"Social distancing measures have to hold – and be capable of spreading out the Covid 19 infection rate. That will help our health service cope.

"Closing schools by itself will not be effective, if we can't sustain it. It might even be counterproductive at this stage.

"What is needed is a wider and phased social distancing strategy that holds together and works over months not weeks."

Social distancing for older people is expected to be introduced in the coming days, the Minister confirmed.

"If you have mild symptoms, stay at home. You will not need to be tested. You should not contact or go to a GP surgery, Pharmacy or Emergency Department.

"If your symptoms worsen during your home isolation, or you are no better after seven days, seek medical advice by telephone. If you have an underlying health condition and you develop symptoms, then let your GP know. Please only call 999 if it's an emergency."




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