Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (25 March 2020)

Northern Ireland Executive ministers were today involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.

Health Minister Robin Swann announced the establishment of Primary Care Covid-19 Centres for the sole treatment of patients suspected of having the Coronavirus and requiring medical attention.

During a visit to Altnagelvin Hospital where the first centre opened its doors, the Minister confirmed the centres were opening to ensure vital GP services are maintained, redirecting those with Covid-19 symptoms away from surgeries and other patients who have conditions other than the virus.

With each health trust planning to open at least one Covid-19 centre in their area, Mr Swann stressed they were not testing facilities and said that patients would not be able to report directly to them without being referred by their GP or Out of Hours provider.

An extensive advertising campaign was launched by First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, enlisting members of the public in the battle to slow down the spread of Covid-19.

Using the strapline ‘We All Must Do It To Get Through It,’ billboard, print, broadcasting and digital media channels are from today being deployed to urge everyone to follow public health advice by remaining at home unless absolutely necessary, avoiding socialising and by washing their hands thoroughly and regularly.

As part of efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon suspended all Disability Action transport services and significantly restricted all Dial-A-Lift service to essential journeys only.

Funding to community transport operators will be maintained despite the restrictions and discussions will take place with community transport operators to understand what scope there is to support their members and wider society during the crisis.

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots joined forces with the Ulster Farmers Union to issue guidance to farmers on how they can keep their farm functioning in the event of a Coronavirus outbreak.

Among the precautionary measures farmers are advised to take are: identifying someone who can help the farm continue while utilising their specific expertise and skillsets; writing down a daily work plan that notes where stock are, what feed they are receiving, any animal health treatments, grazing and rotation; assessing feed, fertiliser, oil, medicine and other stocks; and providing operating instructions for machinery and equipment.

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