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No current coronavirus clusters in Northern Ireland, says Public Health Agency

The PHA released a statement following speculation of potential clusters in Crossgar and Ballynahinch, Co Down.

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Drive-through testing is now commonplace (Niall Carson/PA)

Drive-through testing is now commonplace (Niall Carson/PA)

Drive-through testing is now commonplace (Niall Carson/PA)

The Public Health Agency has insisted there are no current coronavirus clusters in Northern Ireland.

The PHA issued a statement on Tuesday following speculation of clusters in Crossgar and Ballynahinch in Co Down, describing instead “household-related infections”.

A cafe and a care home in the area closed their doors as a precaution, citing an “outbreak of Covid-19 in our area”.

It is understood the virus was detected over three households and had been identified through contact tracing.

The Public Health Agency said: “We are aware of current media speculation regarding an alleged cluster in Newry, Mourne and Down area.

“The contact tracing process will identify any potential links between positive cases both within and outside households.

“We have not identified any current clusters other than household-related infections in the Newry, Mourne and Down area.

“With some ongoing community transmission of Covid-19, it is expected that there will be variation in the number of cases detected across geographical areas, and with small numbers of cases, we must be cautious about the significance of these variations.

“PHA will continue to monitor all cases of Covid-19, look for trends and linked cases and where we need to advise or inform the public of any increased risk to public health we will do so in a timely manner.”

In a post on social media, Crossgar business Cafe Q said it had taken the decision to close for sit-in customers for “a few weeks”.

“No one on our staff has been affected and we want them that to stay this way and ensure that our customers also remain healthy,” the business posted on its Facebook page.

SDLP South Down MLA Colin McGrath urged local people to remain vigilant.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

“The virus has been a worrying development sweeping across the world and it is concerning to hear that it has spiked in the Crossgar and Ballynahinch area,” he said.

“This underscores the need for people to be vigilant and ensure that they are continuing to wash their hands and be observant of social distancing rules.

“While we have had many easements to the regulations that were in place to guide us through this pandemic, it is apparent that it is still in our community and spikes can occur at any stage in any place.

“I welcome that the department has moved quickly to isolate this outbreak and I would ask the community to be vigilant of further cases and to follow any official directions to try and contain this outbreak.

“Contact tracing is an important element and if anyone is asked to isolate they should do so immediately.

“It is through working together with the authorities that we will contain any spread. I wish all those who have contracted the virus a quick return to full health and hope they receive all the support from the health services to help return to full health.”

Meanwhile, no additional deaths were recorded with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, according to data compiled by the Department of Health, leaving the total number of people who have died in the region at 554.

Another five positive cases have been recorded since Monday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the region to 5,761, according to the department.

PA