Three new Covid-19 contact tracing centres open

Aidan Dawson, Chief Executive of the PHA, and Professor Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer
Connla Young

Public health chiefs have set up three new Covid-19 contact tracing centres across the north as cases continue to rise.

The new centres in Belfast, Armagh and Derry will work with the main Contact Tracing Service (CTS) centre at County Hall in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

The satellite sites have been set up by the Public Health Agency (PHA) in a bid to curb the spread of the disease.

Around 185 people are currently employed in contact tracing, along with 43 medical technicians.

Professor Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, visited the Belfast site at Linenhall Street yesterday.

“The expansion of the Contact Tracing Service to these three additional sites is another positive step in our ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

"Let me again pay tribute to the essential and valuable work that our PHA colleagues and our health and social care staff continue to provide across Northern Ireland.

"These measures will help to ensure our services continue to provide the best care possible in these extremely challenging times.”

PHA chief executive Aidan Dawson said contact tracing is hugely important.

"Contact tracing continues to be a vital tool in the fight against Covid-19, the service is based on a flexible model which enables us to increase the number of tracing hours to meet forecast demand," he said.

"With a large rise in cases expected over the summer months we worked hard in the build-up to increase the service's workforce each week, adding additional capacity to the operation.

"This has also meant increasing our accommodation to meet the needs of our growing workforce."

Mr Dawson said "we will keep both our workforce and accommodation needs under review to ensure we can respond flexibly to the needs of the population during the pandemic".

"Although we have increased in size, our role in supporting people who have tested positive and their contacts remains the same," he said.

He urged members of the public to get vaccinated.

"These vital services have, and continue to, save lives," he said.

"We are asking the public to work with us, Covid-19 is still a threat and we need everyone to play their part in helping to stop the virus spreading.

"It is therefore essential that we remember the key advice to help keep ourselves and those around us safe.

"Please get the vaccine if you're eligible.

"Maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering when required, and self-isolate and get a PCR test if you display any symptoms of coronavirus.

"If you are a close contact of a positive case, follow the advice on what you need to do next from the CTS."

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