Coronavirus clusters in several areas across Northern Ireland, Public Health Agency data shows
Analysis of Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland has identified 11 clusters with five or more people since contact tracing began on 24 May.
Data released by the Public Health Agency (PHA) shows clusters have been in the following council areas: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council (1), Ards and North Down Borough Council (1), Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (1), Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council (1), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (3), and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (4).
In addition, there have been 20 clusters across the north with fewer than five people.
A cluster is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 among individuals associated with a key setting, with illness onset dates within a 14 day period.
Key settings which have seen clusters to date since May include workplaces, retail or hospitality premises, domestic gatherings, and sporting settings.
The PHA figures reveal that since July, the average number of close contacts linked to cases has more than doubled. The agency says the rise may be attributed to the gradual easing of lockdown measures, but may also be explained by relaxing of attitudes to social distancing.
Over the week up to 5pm on 12th August 2020, the number of positive tests reported to the contact tracing service was 223, while the number of positive cases that required contact tracing was 196. There were 186 positive cases that completed contact tracing, and 713 contacts identified. Of these, 695 contacts successfully contacted and advised.
The PHA will be publishing cluster data on a weekly basis each Thursday until further notice.
Dr Gerry Waldron, Head of Health Protection at the PHA, said: “Cases are occurring in communities across Northern Ireland. This is an important reminder that we must not become complacent – coronavirus remains in circulation, so each of us has a responsibility to take steps to help keep ourselves and those around us safe.
“Maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and get tested if you display any symptoms of coronavirus. You can also download the StopCOVID NI contact tracing app.
“This disease has the potential to make its presence felt in any community, as we have seen with clusters appearing across a number of council districts.
“Everyone should act on the basis that it might potentially be in your neighbourhood right now, rather than waiting for it to emerge in your local area or for rumours to circulate before taking steps to help protect yourself and others. That’s why following the public health advice remains vitally important.
"You can spread the virus even if you don't have symptoms, so taking these steps and exercising good hygiene practices will help prevent cases and reduce the number of clusters.
Dr Waldron added: “Speculation around current clusters of COVID-19 across Northern Ireland is not helpful.
“We will not be commenting on individual cases of COVID-19 or going into the detail of every incident that emerges, as this could lead to people being identified, create stigma and focus attention on individuals, families or groups, and therefore deter others with symptoms coming forward to be tested.”