Coronavirus NI: This is why we can’t tell you where all the Coronavirus COVID-19 cases are in Northern Ireland - First cases of Coronavirus community transmission recorded in Northern Ireland - Nine new cases of Coronavirus detected in NI

Coronavirus COVID-19 has been described as the “worst public health crisis in a generation”.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 6:02 pm

It’s impacting upon virtually every strand of life in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom - stay with us today for all the latest news, updates and announcements.

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Pedestrians walk through Grafton Street in Dublin wearing masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

Coronavirus COVID-19 in Northern Ireland

Last updated: Friday, 13 March, 2020, 16:15

  • NI COVID-19 cases jumps by nine to 29
  • 208 new cases identified in UK in last 24 hours
  • 'Close NI schools immediately' says Michelle O'Neill
  • All football matches in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland called off

It's Social Media Editor, Andrew Quinn, here with you again today.

Stay with us for all the latest news, advice and information concerning Coronavirus in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and further afield. 

Coronavirus will close Northern Ireland schools says Arlene Foster

Premier League suspends all games until April 3

The Premier League has suspended all games until April 3 at the earliest because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

'Close schools immediately' - Michelle O'Neill

Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill, has broken ranks with First Minister Arlene Foster over the issue of school closures in Northern Ireland because of Coronavirus COVID-19.

Mrs. Foster said on Friday that she believed the virus would inevitably result in the closure of schools but didn't go as far as Mrs. O'Neill who a few hours later called for all schools in Northern Ireland to close.

Less than 24 hours ago, Mrs. O'Neill and Mrs. Foster stood side by side and were in agreement with the British government that there was no need to close schools in Northern Ireland - READ MORE.

City of Derry Jazz festival cancelled

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council today agreed to close all Council owned buildings to the public from 6pm today, Friday 13 March, for an initial two-week period. 

A number of forthcoming major events including the City of Derry Jazz Festival are also to be cancelled.

The decision was made following a members briefing this morning in the Guildhall, as a precautionary measure and in the interest of the health and safety of the public as the local authority reviewed its contingency planning to reduce the risk of COVID-19 across the Council area.

Following on from the decision yesterday to close the Derry Road office in Strabane and the Brandywell building, it was agreed that additional closures will come into force from 6pm today. 

 

 

They will include the Civic offices on Derry’s Strand Road, all leisure facilities, council owned and managed community centres, the Guildhall, Tower Museum, the Alley Theatre and sports pitches and pavilions.

 

It was agreed at the briefing that Council parks, open spaces including cemeteries and play areas will currently remain open.

 

In terms of forthcoming Council events, the City of Derry Jazz Festival, the Angling Fair and the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon will be cancelled. 

Other events and services continue to be under constant review.

 

Council staff will continue to report to their place of work as normal where internal working arrangements are being reviewed and a range of restrictions put in place including no external meetings and attendance at conferences, in full consultation with unions to facilitate the delivery of essential services during this challenging period.

 

Members agreed that Council will communicate with third party facilities, including community centres and arts facilities that have a service level arrangement with Council, of Council’s plans to assist them in making informed decisions about their own premises.

 

Members were provided assurance by Council officials that adaptations will be made within Council services to facilitate the continued delivery of vital services. Any operational changes to any service will be communicated to the public once they are finalised.

 

New arrangements to allow for the continuation of Council meetings are also been reviewed with an emphasis on the need for key decision making to continue.

 

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Michaela Boyle welcomed the decisions taken by Council today. She said Derry City and Strabane District Council continued to show strong leadership and praised the organisation for its proactive approach to dealing with a very difficult situation.

 

She said: “The decision to close all Council facilities to the public and to cancel some of our key events was not taken lightly but it was unanimously agreed that they are the right decision in the interests of the safety of the public. The Council has a duty of care to its staff and the public and this is a very responsible and proactive approach to this situation. We will continue to work and consult with our statutory agencies and partners in terms of contingency planning and service provision.”

 

She said senior management and elected members will continue to communicate to monitor the situation over the coming days and weeks.

 

Providing reassurance to the public, the Mayor said that while Council facilities are closed to the public, other essential services will continue and they can contact the Council directly at 028 71253 253 or follow Council on Twitter and Facebook.

Italian medical chief who was handling Coronavirus outbreak dies after testing positive for COVID-19

A deserted cafe in Codogno in Italy's Lombardy region (Picture: Antonio Calanni)

A doctor who had been managing the COVID-19 crisis in northern Italy has died after testing positive for the virus last weekend.

Roberto Stella, 67, suffered respiratory failure and passed away on Tuesday, according to Italy's National Federation of Doctors and General Practitioners.

"He was the example of the capability and hard work of family doctors. 

"His death represents the outcry of all colleagues who still today are not equipped with the proper individual protection needed," said Federation Secretary Silvestro Scotti .

Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in UK increases to 798

As of 9am on 13 March 2020, 32,771 people have been tested in the UK, of which 31,973 were confirmed negative and 798 (an increase of 208 on the day before) were confirmed as positive. 

10 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19 after spending the weekend dining with US President Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for COVID-19 after spending the weekend dining with US President Donald Trump.

The Brazilian leader spent considerable time in the company of the US President at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Concern started to grow earlier this week when it emerged that one of President Bolsonaro's aides tested positive for COVID-19.

President Bolsonaro was tested on Thursday with the results made public on Friday.

President Trump tweeted shortly before 3.00pm (GMT) on Friday that he would be holding a press conference at the White House at 3.00pm (7.00pm GMT).

Services will be significantly curtailed due to Covid-19 – Minister

coronavirus

Health service activity across Northern Ireland will unfortunately have to be significantly curtailed as resources are diverted to care for coronavirus patients, Minister Robin Swann has stated.

Affected services will include non-urgent outpatient appointments, day cases, inpatient and diagnostic work. The process of scaling back provision will be phased in over the days and weeks ahead.

Due to increased pressures on GPs during the Covid-19 outbreak, the Department of Health and the British Medical Association have agreed measures to release additional capacity in General Practice. This will mean that GPs will prioritise work to address Covid-19 cases and practices may reduce certain services.

Northern Ireland has moved from the containment to the delay phase for dealing with coronavirus. As part of this new phase, members of the public are advised to stay at home for seven days if they have a fever and/or a new and persistent cough.

Mr Swann stated: “I want to be totally frank with the public about the scale of the challenge heading our way. Health services across the globe are coming under severe pressure. Ours is no different.

“We have now started freeing up resources in our health service to provide hospital care for the most seriously ill Covid-19 patients.”

Currently, only non-urgent outpatients, day case, inpatient and diagnostic services will be reduced.  Suspect cancer cases and other urgent care will continue, unless advised by the applicable Trust.

Venues for services may change as Trusts try to manage and centralise in order to attempt to maintain services.

For patients who need follow up as outpatients, Trusts are planning for greater use of telephone contact and other digital technology, where appropriate.

Patients will be contacted directly by Trusts with regard to any changes to already scheduled appointments.

All HSC Trusts will also be focusing sustained attention on ensuring patients who are medically well are promptly discharged from hospital, with appropriate care arrangements, to ensure hospital beds are available for any increase in admissions.

Trusts must also plan ahead for levels of sick leave amongst staff, which will inevitably impact on capacity.

Minister Swann continued: “I obviously want to apologise to everyone who will have appointments and treatments postponed. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable.

“This is undoubtedly the biggest public health challenge for at least a generation.

“It will require a Government-wide and society-wide response, not only caring for those who fall ill but also providing support to anyone impacted by self-isolation and any social distancing measures that are put in place in the weeks ahead.

“I am very grateful for the support that has been evident right around the Executive table.”

In conjunction with the Health and Social Care Board, HSC Trusts are finalising their surge plans for the predicted significant increases in Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland. These will be published next week.

Nine new cases of COVID-19 detected in Northern Ireland

As of 2.00pm on Friday 13 March, testing has resulted in nine new positive cases bringing the total number of cases in Northern Ireland to 29.

The Public Health Agency is currently establishing if any of the new cases fall into the category of community transmission.

A total of 321 tests have been completed in Northern Ireland, in cases where people met the case definition for suspected coronavirus.

A significant number of further tests have been carried out for surveillance and clinical purposes – for example, for patients in intensive care and other hospital settings with respiratory symptoms - READ MORE.

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