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Northern Ireland lawyer latest victim of swine flu

By Lisa Smyth

Members of the public concerned for their health after a Northern Ireland lawyer was diagnosed with swine flu have been urged to remain calm.

It emerged yesterday that a barrister from Northern Ireland has been diagnosed with the virus, and as a result, Court Service staff have been issued with emergency guidance.

Concerns were raised that the hundreds of people who use Laganside Magistrate’s Court may be at risk of contracting the illness. But the Public Health Agency has reissued the message that risk of catching the infection without close contact is very low.

A spokesman from the Public Health Agency said he could not comment on individual cases but explained: “I would like to stress that anyone considered to have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with swine flu is contacted quickly and given anti-viral treatment to reduce risk.

“The risk to anyone who was not in close contact is very low. A risk assessment is carried out by health experts in each particular situation to determine who may be at risk.”

It is not known when the barrister was diagnosed with the illness, but the Court Service was made aware of the development on Thursday and guidance was subsequently issued to all staff.

A spokesman from Court Service confirmed that steps have been taken as a precautionary measure following the development.

He said that guidance issued to staff on May 1 was revised on Thursday.

He explained: “The Court Service has been advised that one individual who attended Laganside Magistrate’s Court last week is confirmed as having swine flu. Relevant Court Service staff, judiciary and other court users have been advised accordingly.”

It is thought the barrister took ill when he returned home from holiday in South Africa.

He is understood to have taken time off work for a period after becoming sick.

For further information on swine fever you can go to NiDirect

Belfast Telegraph


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