Record number of Covid cases reported in Northern Ireland on Christmas Eve — highest since start of pandemic

Another 3,286 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland with three further fatalities, according to the Department of Health.

By Staff Reporter
Friday, 24th December 2021, 4:07 pm

On Friday morning, there were 256 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 34 were in intensive care.

The Christmas Eve figures are reported to represent the highest number of daily cases reported in Northern Ireland since the start of the pandemic.

People who test positive for Covid-19 over Christmas have been urged to work with contact tracing teams to help prevent the spread of Omicron.

Festive shoppers in Belfast city centre are reminded of Covid rules as case numbers in Northern Ireland hit their highest number on Christmas Eve since the start of the pandemic. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

The Public Health Agency (PHA) said there has been a significant increase in demand on its Contact Tracing Service (CTS) as the number of cases surge.

Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, director of CTS, said: “We know that the last thing people want to think about at this time of year is Covid-19, but unfortunately coronavirus doesn’t take a Christmas break.

“The Contact Tracing Service won’t be taking a break either though, and we will be here to work with people to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“As a result of the recent sharp rise in daily positive Covid-19 cases throughout Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency has continued to adjust its operations to help manage the significantly increased demands upon CTS.

“The unprecedented sharp rise in cases recently and the spread of Omicron does mean that the service is understandably under pressure though, so we are asking people to work with us to help us continue to deliver a service which helps reduce spread and keep people safe.

“As soon as you receive a positive result, let your contacts know straightaway - this means that they can immediately take the appropriate steps to help reduce further infections.

“When you receive a text with a code for Digital Self Trace, click on the link and complete it. This will notify your contacts quickly with an official alert.

“Add our CTS number to your phone - (028) 9536 8888 - and keep it nearby so when you receive a call, you’ll know who it’s from and can answer it first time. Fewer missed calls mean our tracers can reach more cases more quickly and get information on contacts without delay.

“If you are told by someone that you are a contact, or you a receive notification from CTS, follow the steps appropriate for you.”

Dr Mitchell said the CTS model is being constantly reviewed to meet the rising demand.

“We should all continue to stick to the key steps to help avoid getting Covid-19 in the first place,” she added.

“The vaccine booster can significantly increase protection against Omicron, and local health services are undertaking a huge upscaling of the booster programme to support this.

“If you are eligible to receive the booster, please get it. If you haven’t yet had your first or second jab, please don’t delay in getting them as advised.”

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