Coronavirus: Two more cases confirmed in NI

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The latest cases of coronavirus in Northern Ireland are not linked, says Health Minister Robin Swann

Two more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, with one a postgraduate student at Queen's University in Belfast.

It brings the total number of cases in the region to three - none are linked.

The student had recently returned from northern Italy and has been mixing with others at university.

The other adult had been in contact with someone in the UK who had tested positive for Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Queen's said its major incident team had been convened and was putting in place the appropriate contingency measures.

"The university remains open and is operating as normal," a spokeswoman said. "The university will continue to closely monitor the situation."

Image source, PA Media
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A demonstration of the coronavirus assessment pod and testing procedures was staged at Antrim Area Hospital on Wednesday

Meanwhile, RTÉ News says another four cases have been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, this time in the west of the country.

The patients, two men and two women, all travelled from the same affected area in northern Italy.

It brings the total number of cases in the Republic of Ireland to six.

Ireland's deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn maintained there was "still no evidence of widespread or sustained community transmission in Ireland, as seen in some other EU countries".

"While we now have six confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, we continue our containment efforts, central to which is that the public know what to do in the event they have symptoms," he added.

Containment phase

The first case in Northern Ireland was a woman who had travelled to northern Italy, which is at the centre of the European outbreak.

Northern Ireland's chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said the latest two patients were receiving the appropriate care and officials were working to identify anyone they had come into contact with.

Northern Ireland remained in the containment phase, he added.

The test outcomes have been sent to Public Health England laboratories for verification.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said the public should remain calm in the face of the latest coronavirus diagnoses.

She said civil contingency measures were in place and she was confident the Northern Ireland Executive was doing all it could to prepare for the inevitable increase in cases.

Image source, Getty Images
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The total number of coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland now stands at three

Ms O'Neill said she and First Minister Arlene Foster would still visit the US next week for St Patrick's Day celebrations.

They are no longer going to New York and instead will just visit Washington DC.

In other developments:

  • Stormont will look at plans for "all large-scale events" but the chief medical officers believes it is too early to make any decisions
  • The chief medical officer advises against wearing face masks as hand washing is a more effective deterrent
  • Belfast City Marathon organisers say they have no plans to cancel the event yet but are working on measures to reduce risk
  • Northern Ireland's tourist industry is to hold an "urgent coronavirus summit"
  • Ireland's chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan says the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin on 17 March does not need to be cancelled "as things stand"
  • Finance ministers from the UK's devolved administrations will meet with Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay to discuss extra health funding
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says workers will get statutory sick pay from the first day off work to help contain coronavirus