More new outbreaks of Delta variant detected in Northern Ireland
The Public Health Agency (PHA) has said it has detected what it believes to are two suspected outbreaks of the Delta variant in Northern Ireland.
Health experts believe outbreaks in Castlewellan and Londonderry might be attributed to the more infectious Delta variant, which was first detected in India.
Early results suggest the Delta variant is behind the rapid spread of the virus but it has yet to be officially confirmed.
As a precautionary measure the PHA is asking asymptomatic people aged 18-40 years old from selected, targeted neighbourhoods within these areas to get PCR tested.
This is so health officials can identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases early and reduce the risk of spread in the community.
Those being asked to come forward for testing will be contacted by post from tomorrow.
Dr Bríd Farrell, Assistant Director of Service Development, Safety and Quality at the PHA, said: “Testing in these areas is a precautionary measure to identify asymptomatic cases and help prevent and delay further spread of the virus.
"By slowing the spread of the virus, this allows us to get more people in the community vaccinated and get protected against COVID-19 which is effective against the Delta variant.
“PCR testing is opening to those in the 18 to 40 age group as we are seeing more cases of the Delta variant in this age group throughout Northern Ireland. We encourage those eligible in the neighbourhoods identified by the agency to book a slot for testing when they receive their letter, and preferably within 24-72 hours of receipt.
“We are seeing cases of the Delta variant across all council areas of Northern Ireland and this is a reminder to everyone that we should take steps now to help reduce the spread of the variant, and avoid becoming complacent."
Dr. Farrell added: “Everyone over the age of 18 who has not yet booked their vaccine should do so now – if you have had your first dose, make sure you attend for your second one. Two doses of the vaccine appears to have a high degree of effectiveness against the Delta variant, and getting it will not only help protect you, but also more vulnerable members of our community. Vaccine booking and further information are available at covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated
“We should all continue to carry out all public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Continue with good hand and respiratory hygiene, keep your distance of two metres from others where possible, wear a face covering where necessary, and keep rooms well ventilated. Helping to stop the spread of the virus will save lives.”
If anyone develops symptoms of COVID-19, which are a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a change in your sense of taste or smell, please book a PCR test as soon as possible and you and your household must self-isolate when waiting for your test appointment and test result.