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43 new positive Covid-19 cases reported as it is revealed 23 clusters in NI since tracing began

Coronavirus Social distancing

There have been a further 43 positive cases of Covid-19 reported in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

It brings the total to 6,049

There have been no further deaths reported, keeping that total at 556.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency have revealed that 23 clusters of Covid-19 cases have been identified in Northern Ireland since contact tracing began in May, with 11 of these remaining active.

168 cases of Covid-19 have been associated with these clusters with nine clusters having had five or more cases associated with them.

Four of these have been detected in the Newry, Mourne and Down area with Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon registering none.

Since July, the average number of close contacts linked to cases has more than doubled.

The rise may be attributed to the gradual easing of lockdown measures, but may also be explained by relaxing of attitudes to social distancing.

Dr Gerry Waldron, Head of Health Protection at the PHA, said: “Our analysis of clusters to date has shown that they have been associated with both workplaces and in the community, such as domestic gatherings and in hospitality and sporting settings.

“Clusters are managed through the contact tracing programme, 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 the past seven days, five clusters have been identified. 35 cases have been associated with these clusters, with 239 close contacts.

“This should act as a timely reminder that we must not become complacent – coronavirus remains in circulation and we have seen an increase in cases in recent weeks. It is therefore essential that we remember the key advice to help keep ourselves and those around us safe.

“Maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and get tested if you display any symptoms of coronavirus.

“This disease has the potential to make its presence felt in any community, as we have seen with clusters appearing across council districts.

“Everyone should act on the basis that it might potentially be in your neighbourhood right now, rather than waiting it to emerge in your local area or for rumours to circulate before taking steps to help protect yourself and others. That’s why following the public health advice remains vitally important. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms, so taking these steps and exercising good hygiene practices will help prevent cases and reduce the number of clusters.”

Dr Waldron added: “Speculation around current clusters of COVID-19 across Northern Ireland is not helpful.

“We will not be commenting on individual cases of COVID-19 or going into the detail of every incident that emerges, as this could lead to people being identified, create stigma and focus attention on individuals, families or groups, and therefore deter others with symptoms coming forward to be tested.”

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