Health bosses should provide as much information as possible about newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19, a leading doctor has said.
Dr Tom Black, chair of the British Medical Association Council in Northern Ireland, said releasing information about future outbreaks will help control the spread of the virus and protect people who are particularly at risk to keep themselves safe.
The Londonderry GP was speaking after four more cases of the virus were confirmed in Northern Ireland yesterday.
It came after the significant milestone on Saturday when Northern Ireland's coronavirus dashboard recorded a full 24-hour period without any new Covid-19 cases.
It was the first time this had happened since lockdown began. However, Dr Black has warned it is unrealistic to expect the virus to completely disappear in the coming weeks and months.
"This infection is now endemic in Northern Ireland and this means that there will continue to be cases for the rest of the year," he said.
"The average cases will hopefully decrease and continue to decrease every week, but I don't think you could assume there will be no cases at any point for the rest of the year.
"This will particularly be the case as we increase the easing of lockdown and there will be people coming in on flights, back from their holidays, so we will continue to see the virus circulating.
"It will hopefully be low level cases and every so often, there is going to be an outbreak as a result of a social event, so we have to be as careful as we can.
"The granular detail of outbreaks is going to be very important in terms of risk management, as it will guide us on what we have to do.
"Information about outbreaks should be made public, so they can make their own judgment about what precautions they should take to keep themselves safe and slow down transmission of the virus.
"The latest four cases may be sporadic, but if there is an outbreak, the public should know because if there are lessons to be learned, the public needs to know what the lesson is."
Dr Black's comments were echoed by Paula Bradshaw, a member of the Stormont health committee. The Alliance MLA said it is vital the public is kept informed about the information being garnered from contact tracing to enable people to protect themselves.
"For example, globally, we are seeing a clear trend towards major outbreaks occurring in enclosed areas with poor ventilation, such as 75 cases linked to a single chicken factory in Anglesey the other evening," she explained.
"In order to keep community transmission low or indeed ideally at zero over the coming days and weeks, people will need to continue to follow the guidance, but they must know what the basis for that guidance is.
"At the moment, in particular, people are mystified as to why they cannot visit family members at home when transmission rates are so low.
"That is why we need more information about the nature of any outbreaks and why they have occurred."
The Department of Health has created a dashboard which is updated every day and provides statistics relating to Covid-19 cases over the previous 24-hours.
The dashboard showed that 800 people had been tested, of which four were positive.
The dashboard covers tests carried out daily in health trust labs, but it does not include tests on national testing sites as part of NHS-wide initiatives.
Responding to the news on Saturday that there had been no new cases diagnosed over the previous 24-hours, Health Minister Robin Swann described it as "significant progress in forcing the virus into retreat", although experts have continued to stress that the public should not become complacent.