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Department of Health statement on Coronavirus

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This evening the Department of Health has issued a statement on Coronavirus.

A spokesperson said “We would like to again assure the public that plans are in place to deal with a positive test for Coronavirus in Northern Ireland when it occurs.

It is also inevitable that a number of people will continue to be tested on a precautionary basis in the weeks ahead and it is important to keep these tests in perspective. A test does not mean that a positive result is expected or likely.

As of 6 February, a total of 566 tests were concluded across the UK, of which 563 were confirmed negative and three positive.

Different precautionary measures are taken as part of the testing protocols. This can include protective clothing for health and social care staff – for their protection and protection of the wider public.

Again, the use of protective clothing should not be taken as an indication that a positive test is expected.

Northern Ireland health authorities do not intend to comment publicly on each case where a person is being tested. There are patient confidentiality issues to consider, particularly when small numbers of people are involved. There is also a need to avoid undue alarm or speculation. This situation will be kept under review.

When a positive test for coronavirus occurs in Northern Ireland, the Chief Medical Officer will make a statement confirming the result and reiterating advice to the general public.

While there can be no room for complacency, it is important to stress that NI’s health service is well-prepared and used to managing infections. We are working and liaising closely with colleagues in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and that co-operation will continue.

Advice and information on Coronavirus is available on the Public Health Agency and Department of Health websites and from a special helpline number 0300 200 7885.

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