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Coronavirus: Altnagelvin baby's test proves negative

Health chiefs adamant: we can deal with coronavirus

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A woman and her dog wear face masks in Beijing, China

A woman and her dog wear face masks in Beijing, China

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A woman and her dog wear face masks in Beijing, China

The Department of Health has assured the public that it is ready to deal with coronavirus should it ever arise in Northern Ireland.

It comes as the family of an infant who was tested for the coronavirus at Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital await the all-clear from doctors.

However, the Belfast Telegraph understands tests on the baby have come back negative.

It is believed the baby, who is thought to be less than six months old, had flown into Ireland with his mother from Hong Kong at the weekend and had experienced flu-like symptoms.

His mother had contacted the family GP in the city with concerns about a cough before being advised to take the tot to hospital to be checked over. As is NHS protocol, the family were met at the door of Altnagelvin Hospital A&E unit by medical staff in protective clothing. It is believed the baby was tested for the coronavirus - which has killed more than 560 people and infected 28,000 in China - while police sealed off the area and diverted visitors to other hospital entrances.

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An area at Altnagelvin Hospital was sealed off when the baby arrived

An area at Altnagelvin Hospital was sealed off when the baby arrived

An area at Altnagelvin Hospital was sealed off when the baby arrived

A PSNI spokesperson said: "At 7:30pm on Thursday, police attended Altnagelvin Hospital in relation to a concern for safety. The officers in attendance were advised to wait outside while hospital staff dealt with a public health matter. Shortly before 9pm, police were advised they could enter the hospital."

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said staff are well trained and well equipped to deal with suspected cases.

"I have had contact with the Trust on Thursday night and attended a scheduled briefing this morning," he said. "I have been reassured that they do have the people and the practice in place to deal with any suspected cases of coronavirus that present.

"My thoughts are with the family who find themselves at the centre of this storm through no fault of their own."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "We would like to again assure the public that plans are in place to deal with a positive test for coronavirus in Northern Ireland when it occurs. It is also inevitable that a number of people will continue to be tested on a precautionary basis in the weeks ahead and it is important to keep these tests in perspective.

"A test does not mean that a positive result is expected or likely. As of February 6, a total of 566 tests were concluded across the UK, of which 563 were confirmed negative and three positive.

"Different precautionary measures are taken as part of the testing protocols. This can include protective clothing for health and social care staff - for their protection and protection of the wider public. Again, the use of protective clothing should not be taken as an indication that a positive test is expected."

Three patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust said: "We do not comment on the individual treatment and care of our patients, for all information and guidance regarding the coronavirus please visit www.publichealth.hscni.net."

Belfast Telegraph