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Coronavirus: Test on baby negative after lockdown in Northern Ireland hospital

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The baby is being being tested at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The baby is being being tested at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The baby is being being tested at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The Belfast Telegraph understands tests on a baby suspected of being infected with the coronavirus in Londonderry have come back negative.

It's after the baby, who is believed to be less than six months old, was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital in the city on Thursday with flu-like symptoms.

The Department of Health said the Chief Medical Officer will make a statement when a positive test occurs in Northern Ireland - and reiterated advice to the general public on how to deal with the virus.

A statement from the department released on Friday evening said that Northern Ireland's health service is well-prepared for any outbreak and is working with colleagues in Britain and the Republic.

The department has issued renewed advice on precautionary measures after the scare involving the baby, who had flown into Ireland with his family from Hong Kong at the weekend.

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," they said.

Hospital staff were pictured wearing protective suits at the hospital during the incident in A&E on Thursday night. The department spokesperson stressed that the use of protective clothing was no indication a positive test result should be expected.

"Northern Ireland health authorities do not intend to comment publicly on each case where a person is being tested. There are patient confidentiality issues to consider, particularly when small numbers of people are involved.

"There is also a need to avoid undue alarm or speculation. This situation will be kept under review," they said.

The virus has killed more than 560 people and infected 28,000 in China.

Police officers helped to seal off a section of the hospital following the infant’s departure and patients who had been waiting in A&E spoke of the department being on ‘lockdown’ for a short time.

Visitors coming to the hospital were being kept behind police cordons.

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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

Meanwhile, testing of more than a thousand people a day for suspected coronavirus will be possible from next week in laboratories across the UK, Public Health England (PHE) said.

The diagnostic test currently used in London will be rolled out to centres across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to increase daily testing capacity and speed up results.

Professor Yvonne Doyle, PHE medical director, said: "Once China confirmed that they had identified a novel coronavirus, Public Health England was ready to test potential cases in this country.

"We have now trained scientists in labs across the UK to conduct the specialist test - ensuring that we are well prepared should we begin to see an increased number of cases across the country."

Belfast Telegraph


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