E. coli outbreak: number of confirmed cases reaches 98

Flicks Flicks restaurant in north Belfast closed voluntarily after the outbreak

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There are now nearly 100 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland's worst ever E. coli outbreak, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has said.

The PHA said the increase to 98 cases, linked to Flicks restaurant in Belfast's Cityside shopping complex, was "not unexpected".

It said the increase was as a result of probable cases becoming confirmed following testing.

The agency said it was examining another 175 probable infection cases.

The Director of Public Health at the PHA, Dr Carolyn Harper, said "the situation is being managed and monitored very closely".

"We continue to meet daily with colleagues at Belfast City Council to share information and results and are working with the council and Food Standards Agency to ensure this investigation progresses steadily," she added.

"We are also liaising with the Health Protection Agency regarding typing and other specialist advice."

It is the second time the PHA has investigated an E.coli outbreak linked to the same restaurant.

In August, four confirmed cases of E. coli 0157 were identified among customers who had eaten in Flicks.

However, the it has been confirmed that the type of E. coli 0157 found in the previous investigation is a different strain to that identified in the latest outbreak.

The PHA said the four cases in August were investigated thoroughly at the time and all tests on the restaurant were negative.

It has advised anyone who ate at Flicks restaurant since 24 September and has symptoms of diarrhoea and/or abdominal pain to contact their GP urgently for medical advice.

The restaurant closed voluntarily and is cooperating with the investigation.

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