Belfast Telegraph

PSNI custody suite closed after officers contract hepatitis A

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A custody suite at Antrim PSNI station closed for a period yesterday afternoon as a precautionary measure after two officers contracted hepatitis A.

The rest of the police station remained open.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) confirmed that it had provided guidance to police on how to deal with the incident.

In a statement to the BBC, district commander for Antrim and Newtownabbey, Superintendent Emma Bond, said staff were working with the PHA and Environmental Health "to implement a number of hygiene procedures, including enhanced environmental and hand hygiene".

"As a precautionary measure, we are also carrying out deep cleans in communal areas within Antrim Station to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our officers and staff. Due to how the virus is contracted, there is a very low risk to the public."

Police said they were working with the PHA to establish the cause of the infection.

It is understood both officers are responding well to treatment.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection and is spread through the fecal matter of an infected person, frequently by coming into contact with something an infected person has touched.

It is uncommon in Northern Ireland, and less serious than hepatitis C, which can be fatal.

While unpleasant, it is not life-threatening, and sufferers can expect to make a full recovery within a couple of months.

Symptoms can include tiredness, loss of appetite, high temperature and pain in the upper-right part of a person's stomach.

A person may also have itchy skin, dark urine, and a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

There are currently 11 custody suites across Northern Ireland, which are continuously updated to meet a range of guidelines for operation, including health and safety standards.

In June 2017 the custody suite at Belfast's Laganside Court was shut down for a period to facilitate a deep clean after an infestation of lice.

It followed the closure of the largest PSNI custody suite at Musgrave due to a similar infestation.

The closure came after legal professionals lodged a number of complaints on behalf of their clients about the facilities.

Belfast Telegraph

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