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Health chiefs taking steps to keep coronavirus out of Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride told MLAs that health officials are determined to stop Covid-19, the name of this strain of coronavirus, "in its tracks" (Liam McBurney/PA)

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride told MLAs that health officials are determined to stop Covid-19, the name of this strain of coronavirus, "in its tracks" (Liam McBurney/PA)

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride told MLAs that health officials are determined to stop Covid-19, the name of this strain of coronavirus, "in its tracks" (Liam McBurney/PA)

Health chiefs have told MLAs that they are taking appropriate steps to "keep coronavirus out of Northern Ireland".

Members of Stormont's health committee were briefed on the actions being taken by Department of Health officials and individual trusts yesterday.

It comes as the Public Health Agency confirmed that 21 people have so far been tested for the coronavirus here. None of these cases tested positive.

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride told MLAs that health officials are determined to stop Covid-19, the name of this strain of coronavirus, "in its tracks".

He said: "This is a rapidly developing situation and the risk to individuals remains low but it is likely that the number of confirmed cases in the UK will rise.

"We are using tried and controlled infection control measures, taking a precautionary approach at this stage and testing people where there is a concern and relevant travel history.

"However, the number of people we are testing is likely to increase over time.

"It is also not unreasonable to assume that at some point we will have a positive case in Northern Ireland."

He added: "There is absolutely no room for complacency and we must ensure that Northern Ireland is prepared for a range of eventualities to best protect the public."

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is working with partners across the UK, including Public Health England, the Department of Health and local health trusts, and the health service in the Republic of Ireland in responding to the virus.

The Belfast Trust's regional viral laboratory is now one of 12 centres in the UK testing for the virus.

Belfast Telegraph