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The Public Health Agency (PHA) has apologised to a Northern Ireland family after they were advised to isolate themselves in their home after their son's Italian ski trip

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has apologised to a Northern Ireland family after they were advised to isolate themselves in their home after their son's Italian ski trip

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has apologised to a Northern Ireland family after they were advised to isolate themselves in their home after their son's Italian ski trip

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has apologised to a Northern Ireland family after they were advised to isolate themselves in their home after their son's Italian ski trip.

Dan Douglas (14), from Banbridge, Co Down, was told to self-isolate in his bedroom for 14 days after experiencing a cold following a visit to San Valentino. He was said to have a runny nose, which is not a symptom of the virus.

He had not been to any of the 11 towns at the epicentre of the outbreak in the country but was given incorrect advice after his mother Elaine made phone calls to the PHA helpline. They were also told the entire family should isolate themselves from the outside world as well as containing their son in his room.

The PHA has had over 900 calls to its helpline in the past two weeks.

The agency said it had no record of which helpline operator - who are not medically trained - gave the advice, but said new measures are in place to improve the service.

Dan's father Dougie Douglas told the BBC's Stephen Nolan Show: "The helpline said get him out of school, get him home and put him in isolation and phone us back when you've done that."

Mrs Douglas added: "I assumed somebody would come out and test him but the helpline said just to monitor his condition and if it gets worse call 999.

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"She said it would get a lot worse very quickly." Dan said he was bored in his room but that he understood the measures that were being taken.

On Wednesday, after Dan had spent two days in isolation, the Douglas family received a call from Dr Philip Veal of the PHA who told them they had been given the wrong information, bringing relief to the family.

Dr Veal said he was surprised to hear the family had been given incorrect advice and that the agency was keen to send the right message to the public.

"We very much regret and apologise to the family for the inconvenience and discomfort this has caused them," he said.

Dr Veal added that the PHA has taken steps to bring the situation under control following this incident.


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