Ten members of ambulance staff in Craigavon have tested positive for Covid-19 following a golf trip in the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.
A further six workers are also self-isolating as a result following the first confirmed case within the group on September 13.
Chief Executive of the NI Ambulance Service, Michael Bloomfield, has moved to reassure the public that none of those staff members had any patient contact since contracting the virus.
All but one of those positive staff members did not return to work following the trip, however, that one member did not have patient contact, he confirmed.
As a result of that case, four other staff members are self-isolating as a result.
Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme, Mr Bloomfield said: “All of the staff who were on the trip and have tested positive, we are in contact with, making sure they get occupational health support and those who have tested positive are required to self isolate for ten days and then not return to work until they have been asymptomatic for at least 48 hours.
“We are approaching the end of that period – we would hope to see most of staff return to work very soon.”
Mr Bloomfield confirmed than none of those 10 were seriously ill as a result but admitted it was a “considerable proportion of staff” to lose in one go.
He said additional staff are brought in from other areas to “make sure there is not a reduced response time” but that the service has “been dealing with issues like this for quite some time”.
“We would have a reasonably large number of staff not able to do frontline duties at any period of time and that impacts differently on different areas,” he said.
“The job we have to do on a day-to-day basis is to manage that and make sure no one area is disproportionally affected.”
An internal review into the matter revealed that this outbreak was as a result of a community transmission, and “not contracted through work”.
Mr Bloomfield added: “The first person tested positive on September 13, and we believe it was contracted through a family member, and as a result of the trip away together that’s how it was passed to others.
“That just highlights how contagious this virus is and a reminder to us all how vigilant we must be at all times.”
Mr Bloomfield stressed that there have been no patient contacts identified as a result.
“With the exception of one, none of those staff were back in work,” he continued. “One member of staff was in work for a short time and had no patient contact but four other staff members are self isolating as a result of that.”
Mr Bloomfield said he believed none of those staff members broke any regulations in place at the time.
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