PHA Covid testing for Kilkeel after ‘probable’ Indian variant detected

Health chiefs investigating suspected cases of the Indian variant Covid in the Kilkeel area of Co Down have urged the public to cooperate with testing requirements.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 8:18 pm
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 8:40 pm

On Friday night, the Public Health Agency (PHA) said a “small number of probable cases” have been identified and testing will begin in “selected, targeted neighbourhoods”.

The PHA said it “has identified a small number of probable cases of the Delta variant (VOC-21APR-02, first detected in India) in the Kilkeel area”.

The PHA described the early results as “suggestive” but said the variant has not yet been confirmed.

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“As a precautionary measure we are asking asymptomatic people to get tested in selected, targeted neighbourhoods within the in the Kilkeel area,” the PHA said.

“This is in advance of confirmation of whether a variant is present so that we can identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases early and reduce the risk of spread in the community.”

The PHA statement adds: “Testing is opening to everyone in these areas over the age of five years old. Households in the areas that this testing covers will be contacted directly by PHA in the coming days.”

Dr Stephen Bergin, Interim Director of Public Health at the PHA, said: “This testing in the Kilkeel area is a precautionary measure to identify asymptomatic cases and prevent community spread.

“We encourage all those eligible in the neighbourhoods identified by the agency to present for testing.

“This is a reminder to everyone through Northern Ireland to continue to carry out all public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Dr Bergin added: “Continue with good hand and respiratory hygiene, keep your distance of two metres from others where possible, wear a face covering where necessary, keep rooms well ventilated, and if you’re offered the vaccine, book your appointment.

“Stopping the spread of the virus will help save lives.”

There have been 26 reported cases of the Indian variant in Northern Ireland to date.