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Coronavirus: Queen's University student is one of two new cases confirmed in Northern Ireland

  • One person had contact with someone elsewhere in the UK who tested positive for Covid-19
  • The other recently travelled from northern Italy
  • Authorities working to identify NI contacts to prevent further spread
  • Total of nine cases diagnosed on the island of Ireland

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Department of Health hold media briefing at Castle Buildings at Stormont. Left to right.  Dr Gerry Waldron, Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Department of Health hold media briefing at Castle Buildings at Stormont. Left to right. Dr Gerry Waldron, Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Department of Health hold media briefing at Castle Buildings at Stormont. Left to right. Dr Gerry Waldron, Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

A Queen's University student is one of two new cases of the coronavirus diagnosed in Northern Ireland.

Both patients are adults and the two cases are not connected. One individual recently travelled from northern Italy. The other had recent contact with a person elsewhere in the UK who has subsequently tested positive for the virus.

The two new cases were confirmed by the Department of Health on Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement, a QUB spokesperson said they are working with the Public Health Agency to identify anyone who has been in contact with the student infected.

They said they are taking all appropriate steps to contain any further spread of the virus and protect the welfare of all those within the university community and the wider public.

"The university remains open and is operating as normal. The university will continue to monitor the situation," the spokesperson added.

"The university has provided online guidance for staff and students and encourages all members of the Queen's community to follow the latest official guidance from the Public Health Agency and other relevant authorities.

"The university's Major Incident Team has been convened and is putting in place the appropriate contingency measures which will be communicated to staff and students when appropriate."

The university remains open and is operating as normal. The university will continue to monitor the situation QUB

Health Minister Robin Swann said both patients are now receiving appropriate care.

He said Public Health Agency personnel are "working rapidly to identify contacts they may have had, with the aim of preventing further spread".

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

Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said Northern Ireland remained in the containment phase and the new cases had "no implications" for the Republic of Ireland and the second case had not resulted from "person to person contact within Northern Ireland".

He said for the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland who contract the coronavirus it would be a mild to moderate illness and they would receive the care necessary.

"What we are now doing is following up very detailed contact tracing, how that person travelled from northern Italy into Northern Ireland and taking appropriate steps so those who need a follow up will be contacted by our colleagues in the Public Health Agency," he said.

Over 150 people have been tested in Northern Ireland so far.

Sinn Fein MLA Colm Gildernew, chair of Stormont's Health Committee, said the news is not surprising.

"I want to wish the individuals concerned a speedy and full recovery," he added.

"I welcome the fact that health advice was followed in both these cases and I would urge the public to continue to follow the advice of health authorities.

"Our health services work best when it has the full support of the community. I want to extend my support to our healthcare workers and urge everyone to do the same.

The two new cases bring the confirmed number of cases on the island of Ireland to nine after the first case was diagnosed in Northern Ireland last week, with four cases in the Republic of Ireland.

Four new cases in the Republic of Ireland were confirmed on Wednesday night, in two men and two women in the west of the country.

Over 100 people in Italy have now died as a result of the Coronavirus, with over 3,000 infected with the disease.

Italy is shutting down all schools and universities until March 15 in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

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A mock-up at Antrim Area Hospital Emergency Department demonstrating how members of the public can be assessed for Coronavirus by driving into the Ambulance Bay. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

A mock-up at Antrim Area Hospital Emergency Department demonstrating how members of the public can be assessed for Coronavirus by driving into the Ambulance Bay. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

A mock-up at Antrim Area Hospital Emergency Department demonstrating how members of the public can be assessed for Coronavirus by driving into the Ambulance Bay. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

It comes as a demonstration on testing for the virus was held at Antrim Area Hospital on Wednesday.

Members of the media were given a walk through of the process of how suspected coronavirus patients would be tested.

Patients suspected of having the disease will be referred by their GP to the hybrid testing facility at Antrim Area Hospital.

People can be tested in their car or in a special coronavirus assessment pod by medical staff wearing protective masks and clothing.

Testing is currently taking place daily between 9 and 10am, with swabs taken from the patients nose and mouth and sent for testing, with results taking around five hours.

Belfast Telegraph


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