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Coronavirus scare at Daisy Hill Hospital

An area of Daisy Hill Hospital was placed under lockdown on Friday amid concerns that a patient had presented at the hospital with a suspected case of the coronavirus, it has been reported.

Online news website, Belfast Live, reported that a man had arrived at the reception area of the hospital prompting emergency procedures to be put in place to protect patients and staff.  The man was placed in an isolation unit to await results of testing, while the reception area of the hospital was cleared of staff and closed to the public as specialists were brought in to conduct a deep clean and disinfect the area.

A spokesman for the Public Health Agency (PHA) did not disclose details of the suspected case at Daisy Hill, citing “patient confidentiality”, and stated that the agency was only providing information on cases that tested positive for the virus.

The Department of Health (DoH) statement released afterwards said it was “inevitable that a number of people” will be tested “on a precautionary basis in the weeks ahead”.

“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,” a spokesman said.  “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.”

The deadly respiratory virus originated the Wuhan area of China and has swept the globe with more than 800 deaths reported.  To date a total of 566 tests have been carried out across the UK, three of which have been tested positive for the virus.

The DoH statement described some of the measures used as part of the testing process: “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.”

“For advice and information on Coronavirus visit the Public Health Agency website and or call the special helpline number 0300 200 7885.