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Coronavirus: Confusion in Northern Ireland around latest advice on travelling from Italy

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The Public Health Agency's website has now been updated.

The Public Health Agency's website has now been updated.

The Public Health Agency's website has now been updated.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has moved to address a disparity in the advice given to the Northern Ireland public between that in England on dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

It emerged on Monday the advice from the PHA for those travelling from northern Italy didn’t reflect the advice from authorities in England.

On Monday morning, the PHA website did not list Milan as a high risk area, the BBC’s Stephen Nolan show reported.

After being contacted the PHA said it had to wait for information to filter through from Public Health England before it could update its own information.

The PHA Northern Ireland website was then updated and now links directly the Public Health England website for the latest advice to reduce any further risk to the delay in the latest information.

A PHA Northern Ireland spokesperson said that their website was still the best place for the public to get their information on the coronavirus.

However they accepted there had been a slight delay in updating the information.

"Public Health England issues the guidance and then it comes to us and we update our website, we do it ourselves to ensure as much local information is available as possible" the spokesperson said.

"It's a fast moving situation with the advice changing from day to day. We will now link directly to the Public Health England website to avoid confusion."

Current advice states that for those that have travelled to northern Italy they must self-isolate for 14 days upon returning home.

When the first coronavirus case in Northern Ireland was confirmed health officials faced intense questioning around their methods for containing the disease and the information given out.

Officials initially refused to confirm any details of the person with the virus other than that they had travelled from Italy. They would not provide details of their gender or when or how they had travelled from Italy, through Dublin and into Northern Ireland.

It was subsequently revealed they travelled on the Enterprise train service which subsequently had a deep clean.

The PHA said it would “work rapidly” to identify anyone affected.

All presumptive positive tests for coronavirus in Northern Ireland are sent to Public Health England for confirmation.

After five new cases were detected on Sunday there are currently 12 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland with 21 in the Republic of Ireland.

There have been 280 confirmed cases in the UK with three deaths linked to the virus.

Belfast Telegraph