| 15.7°C Belfast

Where were the 16 coronavirus clusters in Northern Ireland? PHA urged to reveal details

Close

16 Covid-19 clusters have been identified in Northern Ireland since May 24 (Simon Dawson/PA)

16 Covid-19 clusters have been identified in Northern Ireland since May 24 (Simon Dawson/PA)

PA

16 Covid-19 clusters have been identified in Northern Ireland since May 24 (Simon Dawson/PA)

An Alliance MLA has urged the Public Health Agency (PHA) to reveal full details after 16 Covid-19 clusters were identified in Northern Ireland.

The Irish News has reported that 16 clusters linked to 133 positive cases of the virus have been identified through contact tracing since May 24.

Six of these clusters had more than five positive cases of Covid-19 associated with them.

Alliance health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw said "the nature of those clusters must be revealed".

Earlier this month a cluster of Covid-19 cases was identified in Limavady, believed to be linked to a house party were a karaoke microphone was passed around.

The PHA has confirmed that another cluster has been identified in Ballymena and they are "monitoring" developments.

A spokesperson said the PHA is "aware of a number of cases in the Ballymena area that may be associated with a cluster".

A cluster is defined as two or more cases among Covid-19 deriving from the same place with the onset of the illness within 14 days.

Multiple cases of Covid-19 in a single household is not classed as an outbreak.

Close

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw

Ms Bradshaw said she had asked questions about outbreaks in particular locations, but had been told "these were just matters of increased transmission".

The South Belfast MLA, who earlier this week cancelled a family holiday to Italy after confusion around travel guidance, said it was important to identify what was being learned from contact tracing.

“Now it turns out that the recently publicised case near Limavady is one of sixteen since 22 May. The issue is we have not been informed about the nature of these clusters and, particularly, how they originated," Ms Bradshaw said.

“A public health emergency needs public support and therefore good public information. That means the public must be fully informed about the types of behaviour which have proven particularly dangerous in terms of leading to super-spreading events."

The Alliance MLA urged Health Minister Robin Swann to "ensure the Public Health Agency publishes information about the nature of each cluster and what we can learn from it".

A PHA spokesperson said clusters of cases were to be expected during the pandemic.

"The Public Health Agency (PHA) will not comment on individual cases or go into the detail of every incident that emerges, as this could lead to people being identified, create stigma and focus attention on individuals, families or groups, and therefore deter others with symptoms coming forward to be tested," the spokesperson said.

"To date the majority of clusters that have occurred have been managed effectively through the contact tracing programme, and where we need to advise or inform the public of any increased risk to public health we will do so in a timely manner."

A Department of Health spokesperson said the contact, trace and protect approach had proved "highly effective in preventing the further spread of Covid-19".

"We must be aware that Covid-19 is still a threat and we need everyone to play their part in helping to stop the virus spreading," the spokesperson said.

Belfast Telegraph