Northern Ireland news

Council probe underway into 'premises' which held school formals linked to Covid outbreak

Council environmental health officers and public health officials have visited premises linked to a coronavirus outbreak among young people who attended "social events". Two school formal events were held in the Culloden Hotel last week.
Seanín Graham

A COUNCIL probe is underway into "premises" which facilitated school formals and parties linked to a surge in coronavirus cases among teenagers.

The Irish News has learned that environmental health teams from Ards and North Down Borough Council along with public health officials visited the Culloden Hotel following two end-of-year school events last week.

A council spokeswoman confirmed an investigation is underway after the Public Health Agency (PHA) alerted them to a "cluster emanating from social events linked to a number of premises".

In a statement to The Irish News yesterday, she added: "The investigation is ongoing with further visits to the premises by officers today, alongside PHA personnel."

When asked if any premises had received a caution in relation to its failure to provide a recorded a list of contacts who attended the "social events", the council spokeswoman replied: "The nature of any follow up action will be considered when the investigation is complete."

The Culloden Hotel was asked to comment on the outcome of the council visit.

No-one from the Hastings Hotel group, which owns the 5-star Co Down facility, was available for comment.

A spokeswoman said earlier this week they are "completely compliant with the current government guidelines which are strictly followed at all times. We have rigorous operating procedures in place and our staff are fully trained to reflect this."

Pupils from Campbell College and Strathearn School, both in east Belfast, attended the separate events last week as well as pre and after parties in different venues.

Strathearn School yesterday issued a statement saying it had not organised any "official external events".

It added however it was "aware that some upper sixth leavers may have attended an event which has drawn the attention of the Public Health Agency".

"We have been working closely with the Public Health Agency as they try to contact those involved in order to provide them with the appropriate guidance and advice," the school said.

On Tuesday, Campbell College headmaster Robert Robinson confirmed the PHA "recently contacted the college, along with other schools, to indicate that there had been positive cases following social events that involved pupils from a number of south Belfast, east Belfast and north Down schools".

"Whilst these were not official school events, I believe that all schools contacted have been working closely with the PHA in the interests of public safety to ensure those involved were aware of the situation and instructed to follow the guidelines. The college issued a letter from the PHA to parents and pupils," he said.

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