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‘Covid hasn’t gone away’ warns Public Health Agency, as figures in Northern Ireland creep up

PHA plans autumn booster programme


Stock image (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images).

Stock image (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images).

Getty Images

Stock image (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images).

Northern Ireland is seeing an increase in Covid-19 infections driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

That is according to both the Office for National Statistics in their most recent survey, and Dr Gillian Johnston from the Public Health Agency, who warned Covid “hasn’t gone away”.

The ONS weekly infection survey shows that for the week ending June 11, 2.34% of the population in Northern Ireland was infected with one of the Covid variants.

According to the ONS, while it is “too early to say” if it signals the start of another wave in the pandemic, infections have increased “across all four UK nations.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) here said they are seeing some “small increases over the past couple of weeks”.

They said the number of people in Northern Ireland who are testing positive with symptoms has also “gone up by a small amount”.

“It is really an indication that Covid hasn’t gone away, it has never gone away,” she told BBC NI.

“Yes, things have opened up and the regulations have changed, but Covid is still here so it is important people get their vaccination if they haven't already received their initial dose one, dose two and booster vaccinations.

“Equally, it is important those who have been eligible for the recent spring booster and upcoming autumn booster get themselves vaccinated. If you do have symptoms stay at home and test and if you are meeting people, try and meet them outside.

“In terms of being back in the office, that has changed, but people should still be taking their own personal measures to protect themselves.”

Dr Johnston confirmed the PHA are in the process of planning their autumn vaccination booster programme, but said this is likely to remain for select groups.

“It is not necessary for the whole population again to receive a booster,” she added.

“Those over the age of 65, those living in care homes both staff and residents, 12 to 64-year-olds in clinical at risk groups and health social care workers who work in frontline services.

“As things stand those are the groups we are planning for.”

Meanwhile, three deaths linked to Covid-19 have been recorded in the latest Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) figures.

The fatalities, in the week ending June 10, take the total number of coronavirus-linked deaths recorded by Nisra to 4,643.

The figure is drawn from different data sources and is always higher than the Department of Health's total as it provides a broader picture of the impact of Covid-19.

The department's statistics focus primarily on hospital deaths and include only people who have tested positive for the virus.

Nisra obtains its data from death certificates on which Covid-19 is recorded as a factor by a medical professional, regardless of where the death took place or whether the patient tested positive.

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