Northern Ireland to be part of UK ‘battle plan’ to deal with coronavirus

Health Minister Robin Swann will update the Assembly on coronavirus todayHealth Minister Robin Swann will update the Assembly on coronavirus today
Health Minister Robin Swann will update the Assembly on coronavirus today
Health officials from Northern Ireland are liasing with their UK counterparts on the implementation of a government action plan to deal with the threat of coronavirus.

Today the government said no tactics will be “off the table” as part of its plan to contain the virus in the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said an emergency “battle plan”, drawn up for the “worst case scenario”, includes banning big events, closing schools and dissuading people from using public transport.

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A NI Department of Health spokesperson said: “Northern Ireland is playing an active role in UK-wide planning on coronavirus. That includes participation in COBRA meetings and other established protocols. The UK’s four chief medical officers are working closely together.

“As emphasised over the weekend, close cooperation is also ongoing with colleagues in the Republic of Ireland. Emergency measures in the forthcoming UK Government action plan will apply to Northern Ireland, as required.

“It is normal practice to plan for worst case scenarios. This does not mean these outcomes are expected or likely. This is an important point to underline. As has been made clear, we are planning for the worst and working for the best.”

The spokesperson added: “Our primary focus remains on containment. All actions will continue to be based on the best scientific advice.”

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Health Minister Robin Swann will give updates to Executive colleagues and the Assembly tomorrow.

At the weekend the first patient in the Republic of Ireland was confirmed with the virus and is being treated in a Dublin hospital.

It followed a woman from Northern Ireland being diagnosed with the virus - also known as Covid-19 - on Thursday.

Both had travelled home from an affected area in Italy.

Government ministers on both sides of the Irish border held talks on how to respond to the outbreaks.

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Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Health Minister Robin Swann held a conference call with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Irish Health Minister Simon Harris.

Senior health officials from both jurisdictions were also involved in the discussions, which focused on north-south co-operation.

Meanwhile the Public Health Agency (PHA) has received notification that the one presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland has now been confirmed by reference laboratory.