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Coronavirus: NI schools closed for deep cleanup after youngsters tested positive for Covid-19

Two schools in Northern Ireland were closed today after a young boy tested positive for Coronavirus, the Minister of Health announced.

Speaking at the Assembly on Monday, Robin Swann said that one of the five alleged positive cases announced yesterday evening is believed to be a student in a school that is “co-located with an elementary school”.

He said: “I can update the Chamber and the public about the 5 alleged positive cases announced yesterday evening. The Public Health Agency reports that 2 of these cases were related to travel and related to people who had recently been in Northern Italy.

“The remaining 3 cases can be traced to previously reported cases involving recent trips to Northern Italy. One of the 3 is a young man. The individual attends a school that is in an elementary school. Both schools have received public health advice from PHA health protection consultants.

“PHA is happy that there is no public health risk for anyone attending one of the schools, however it understands as a precautionary measure that both schools will close today to undertake advanced cleaning.

“I would also like to reassure the house that the contact trail for all 5 cases is well advanced.”

Swann added that 222 tests were completed in Northern Ireland at 9:00 am on Monday, March 9 and while most of these tests were negative, 12 tested positive.

His full statement read: “All individuals who have proven positive are receiving adequate specialist health care in line with expert advice and agreed procedures. The Public Health Agency has put in place solid control measures of infections to help prevent further spread during the search, those who came into close contact with people were taken immediately.

“Those who require adequate advice will be provided with it. In addition, in light of the growing number of cases and in wanting to keep the Chamber and members of the public fully informed of what is clearly an evolving situation, I can advise that the Department will move on to daily reporting of cases, as is currently the case in England.

“The intention will be to publish the figures every afternoon. As I pointed out earlier, the increase in positive cases is not unexpected and I would advise citizens not to be unduly alarmed by these developments. I cannot discuss individual cases but I I am fully aware of the press reports linking one of the cases to some football teams and I can assure members and everyone who hears that all appropriate actions have been taken in relation to all confirmed cases.

“The overall risk for people in Northern Ireland has not changed at this stage; based on advice from the British Chief Medical Officers, the risk for the UK still remains moderate. This will be kept in check. I would like to echo the demands Prime Minister and advice to people against panic when buying food or other products in supermarkets, at this point we remain focused on the containment phase, which aims to prevent the onset of the disease in the United Kingdom.

“We have been clear that we will communicate any move to the delay phase, but I would like to remind Members that this will not be a clear transition and we will continue with many of the actions underway in the containment phase. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and I we discussed with our counterparts across the UK at a COBR ministerial meeting this morning to examine the scientific evidence that will guide us in our steps: to flatten the peak of the epidemic in the UK; to delay and spread the impact on the our health service, to remove the peak from this time of year and protect those most at risk.

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“Members will also be aware of the increase in cases in the Republic of Ireland which currently amount to 21, including two cases of community broadcasting.” Urgent contact contacts are currently underway for the latest cases. There are no known implications for Northern Ireland at this stage and the relevant public health bodies remain in close contact.

“Although the situation is serious, I would like to reassure Members that detailed plans are in place in the event of an outbreak spreading in the UK and the Republic of Ireland with a prolonged community broadcast. Our health service is used to managing infections and we are well prepared for this.

“I would like to reassure members of the public again that we are taking all necessary measures to minimize the risk to them. We are continuing to plan and be ready for all eventualities. Extensive work has been undertaken to ensure that all Trusts have Covid – 19 PODS in place that will allow patients suspected of having Covid-19 to be evaluated and treated away from normal hospital work.

“We continue to review the best use of current tests and clinical pathways so that people receive the appropriate treatment recognizing that many patients will have mild disease. My department has set up a new direction dedicated to planning overvoltages. Operationally Surge Planning Subgroup was established by PHA and HSCB to ensure that there is an adequate and proportionate level of HSC preparation across the sector in response to Covid-19.

“Biweekly meetings are held and a Covid-19 Surge Planning seminar is held on March 5th. The aim of the seminar was to consider confidence-building plans and self-assessment checklists in order to share actions and ensure regional coherence where possible NICS planning has been stepped up to ensure a coordinated response from all sectors of the government.

“TEO is conducting work on assessing essential services and the readiness of key sectors and has convened weekly C3 meetings. C3 means command, control and coordination. TEO conducted a seminar on March 6 to discuss the risks and departmental priorities. Rest in close contact with other UK health ministers and executive colleagues on all recent developments of tomorrow’s executive meeting. Two weekly COBR ministerial meetings are now scheduled to ensure that our joint approach to addressing this disease continues and will be more frequent if necessary.

“My department will continue to work closely with relevant departments across the UK and the Republic of Ireland to ensure that Northern Ireland is well prepared to handle the situation as events unfold. While the Health and Social Care Council will continue to work with their counterparts in the Health Services Executive in the Republic of Ireland to ensure that, where possible, both jurisdictions can make the most of our collective resources when responding to Covid-19.

“As the situation develops, my Department and the Public Health Agency will continue to provide updated guidance to healthcare professionals and other departments and their authorities, including schools, when and when needed. There were differences in the travel advice in Italy provided by the FCO and the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Ireland.

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“After the discussion with FMdFM and their representation to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and in light of the decisions taken by the authorities in Italy, I was informed that this variation has now been addressed. My advice to the public remains same.”

He continued to advise the NI audience to follow the advice provided by the Covid-19 111 Helpline, the PHA website and NI Direct.

“To those members of the public who have symptoms and are concerned that they may have Covid-19, I urge them not to show up at GP clinics or hospital emergency rooms,” he said.

“Instead, they should contact their GP or GP after hours; they will receive advice on next steps, including tests if necessary. Northern Ireland now has full access to 111 Covid-19 helpline, available 24/7. 7 days to provide advice Additional general advice on Covid-19 is available on the Public Health Agency website and on NI Direct.

“For those who are advised to insulate themselves at home, they have a responsibility to follow that advice. We all have a responsibility to take steps to protect each other. In the future, we will also have to consider the best way to protect those at greatest risk: in all of this we will be guided by the evidence of what is most effective. I would like to remind members and the public that good personal hygiene is the key to helping stop the spread of influenza and similar infectious viruses.

“As such, everyone can help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses by ensuring that we take all sensible precautions such as washing hands – thoroughly and often – and following standard recommended recommendations for similar diseases such as colds and flu – by ensuring that when we sneeze we catch it, we collect it and we kill it.

“My department, including the health and social care system, has planned extensively over the years for an event like this and is therefore well prepared to respond to offer substantial protection to the public. As members will know, the Kingdom United – a broad action plan for Coronavirus – released March 3 – outlines what the UK as a whole has already done and plans to do more to address the current coronavirus epidemic.

“At the international level, and in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, we remain in the Containment phase of our response as we try to prevent sustained community transmission. My priority as Minister is to ensure that all effective measures continue to be implemented in Northern Ireland.

“In conclusion, it is vital that we continue to adopt a balanced and proportionate approach at all times – with our actions based on the best scientific advice. Our main focus remains on containment at this time and then to delay and mitigate. Mr. President, let me points out some key points that should offer a level of reassurance: we have to follow a fine line and be alert but not alarmed.The current evidence is that the vast majority of cases seem to be mild and make a speedy recovery.

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“This is a crucial point that we must keep reminding people of at all times. Yes, some of our citizens are more vulnerable than others and we have to work hard to guarantee them the protection and support they need, not just from service. but from all over society. We are working intensely with public health colleagues in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland to do everything we can to protect our citizens. The challenges, problems and 4 dilemmas we are dealing with are precisely reflected in these islands.

“Decisions will be based on the most up-to-date scientific and medical advice. At times like these, we really see the value of our national health service. It is preparing for a pandemic. We have some of the world’s leading experts advising us on what to do. We have staff throughout the system that works day and night on this.

“And no one who gets sick will have to worry about how much the treatment will cost. I also have to be honest with people. This will not be easier anytime soon. The indications are that it is likely to become much more challenging before facing the worst situation. We can expect significant continuous increases in the number of people who test positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

“The same can be said in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. Health systems around the world are under extreme and growing pressure as this virus spreads. Ours will be no different. This is bound to do fatigue.in healthcare and social care may not be possible.




“Some activities may unfortunately have to be downsized, but these decisions would not be taken lightly. But let’s not fall behind passively and wait for the worst to happen. As I said, guided by the tests that we will act to delay and push the peak to reduce the pressures on our health service.

“We can all make a difference. Washing your hands properly is not a well-meaning but banal advice. It can really help us slow down the spread of Covid 19, help us compensate as much as possible the impact on our health service, they push us in a period where flu and other winter diseases aren’t around to increase the load. That’s why containment is so important. It won’t be a failure if or when we get into the delay.

“So we recognize and appreciate the work done by our Public Health Agency, we understand the vital importance of self-isolation and contact tracking that has been done so far. Without that work, our total today would be much higher. Let me assure members that we are in no way passive or defeatist.

“It is not inevitable that the wave of positive cases in other parts of the world will be replicated here. We all need to face this challenge. This includes each of us who follow the simple advice of washing hands. This is not a component. additional optional. We owe ourselves and our families to continue doing the right things. And the President Speaker we owe him the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable of our society. We cannot disappoint them. “

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