Northern Ireland news

Household-related infections rather than coronavirus clusters in Newry, Mourne and Down says PHA

There must be a swift response to the suspected outbreak of Covid-19 in Crossgar and Ballynahinch, an SDLP MLA has urged.
Digital Staff

The Public Health Agency(PHA)  says no clusters other than household related infections have been identified in Newry, Mourne and Down.

It comes after reports of a suspected outbreak in Crossgar and Ballynahinch with the BBC reporting that uop to 16 people could be affected.

The Department of Health reported nine new cases of coronavirus yesterday and five today, bringing the total number of cases to 5,761.

Earlier, SDLP assembly member Colin McGrath said there must be a swift response to the suspected outbreak of Covid-19.

He said the suspected spike in the Crossgar and Ballynahinch area "underscores the need for people to be vigilant and ensure that they are continuing to wash their hands and be observant of social distancing rules".

“While we have had many easements to the regulations that were in place to guide us through this pandemic it is apparent that it is still in our community and spikes can occur at any stage in any place.

“I welcome that the department has moved quickly to isolate this outbreak and I would ask the community to be vigilant of further cases and to follow any official directions to try and contain this outbreak.

"Contact tracing is an important element and if anyone is asked to isolate they should do so immediately. It is through working together with the authorities that we will contain any spread."

However, the Public Health Agency(PHA)  says no clusters other than household related infections have been identified in Newry, Mourne and Down.

"The contact tracing process will identify any potential links between positive cases both within and outside households", the PHA said.

"We have not identified any current clusters other than household related infections in the Newry, Mourne and Down area  

"With some ongoing community transmission of COVID-19, it is expected that there will be variation in the number of cases detected across geographical areas, and with small numbers of cases, we must be cautious about the significance of these variations.

"PHA will continue to monitor all cases of COVID-19, look for trends and linked cases and where we need to advise or inform the public of any increased risk to public health we will do so in a timely manner."

A number of cafés in the area have closed. The owners of Cafe Q Tea Rooms in Crossgar posted on Facebook that they were closing their premises “for a few weeks”.

The post said: “Hi everyone, due to an outbreak of Covid 19 in our area we are taking the serious decision to close our sit-in for a few weeks to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

“As you know we put in safety measures including temperature testing and screens and sanitising stations but we feel that it is necessary for everyone’s safety to now restrict entry to the sit-in.

“Takeaway will remain as normal... No=one on our staff has been affected and we want them that to stay this way and ensure that our customers also remain healthy.

“We will win this fight if we all play smart and come out the other side safe. Hugh and Eileen xx”

Glasswater Lodge care home in Crossgar decided not to reopen for visitors “at present”.

“We’re going to sit tight over the next week or so and see what happens and then hopefully continue with our plan to reopen once it is safer to do so,” a staff member told BBC News.

Former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie tweeted a "speedy recovery" to those who tested positive for the virus.

The House of Lords peer said she hoped there was "an adequate track and trace in place".


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