Coronavirus: Three new cases in Northern Ireland

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An nurse during a demonstration of the coronavirus pod and Covid-19 virus testing procedures set-up beside the Emergency Department of Antrim Area HospitalImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
A demonstration of coronavirus testing procedures took place at Antrim Area Hospital last week

Three more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Northern Ireland.

They are all adults who had recently travelled from Italy and are linked to a previous case. It brings the total number of cases to seven.

Health officials said further positive tests had been expected and the region remained in the containment phase.

Meanwhile, a number of football teams are taking precautions after a player recently tested positive, with training and fixtures set to be cancelled.

The three new cases in Northern Ireland come as another case was confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total there to 19.

That new case involves a male in the east of the country who had returned from Italy, which has the most serious outbreak in Europe.

Northern Ireland's Department of Health said staff were working to identify people the patients may have been in contact with to prevent further spread.

The test sample from the latest cases will be sent to a laboratory in England for verification.

Information and advice can be found on the Public Health Agency website.

Three phases

The first person to be diagnosed in Northern Ireland - which was confirmed last week - was a woman who had returned from northern Italy.

That was followed by confirmation of two more cases on Wednesday - one of those was a postgraduate student at Queen's University in Belfast.

A group of students at the university were asked to self-isolate as a precautionary measure as a result of that case.

The fourth case, announced on Friday, is an adult who had recently returned from Italy - their diagnosis had been linked to a previous case.

Other developments include:

  • The number of UK cases now stands at 209
  • The family of the second person to die in the UK after contracting the virus have paid tribute to the 83-year-old
  • The government has updated its advice for travellers from Italy - people who develop symptoms after returning from any part of Italy - not just the north of the country - should self-isolate
  • Globally the number of infections has passed 100,000, with nearly 3,500 deaths recorded - the majority have been in China, where the virus originated in December.

The UK's strategy on responding to the virus has three phases - containment, delay, and mitigation - alongside ongoing research.

Up until now, the containment phase has involved catching cases early and tracing all close contacts to halt the spread of the disease for as long as possible.

Moving into the delay phase could see the introduction of "social distancing" measures, such as closing schools and urging people to work from home.