More than 1,000 tested for Covid-19 in Kilkeel

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More than 1,000 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Kilkeel after a number of potential cases of the variant first identified in India were detected.

On Monday, the Public Health Agency (PHA) said 15 cases of the virus have been found following testing in the area since Saturday.

The positive test results are being assessed to see whether the cases are of the variant first identified in India.

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 7, 2021
Facilities set up for coronavirus surge testing at Ballymartin GAC in Kilkeel (Liam McBurney/PA)

Three mobile testing units are to remain in Kilkeel to accommodate testing of anyone over the age of five from within the identified areas who has yet to be tested.

The PHA is also working with partners to place an additional mobile testing unit at Kilkeel High School to test all pupils and staff as a precautionary measure, as a number of positive Covid-19 cases have been linked to the school.

Kilkeel became the focus of attention after what the PHA has described as a “small number of probable cases of the Delta variant (VOC-21APR-02, first detected in India)” were identified in the area.

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 7, 2021
Completed Covid tests are collected during surge testing at Kilkeel Leisure Centre (Liam McBurney/PA)

Dr Brid Farrell, assistant director of service development, safety and quality at the PHA, said the operation is a “precautionary measure to identify asymptomatic cases and help prevent community spread”.

“The more people who come forward for testing, the better chance we have of slowing the spread of the virus,” she said.

“All positive test results are now being assessed for a preliminary indication of whether a variant is present or not and then submitted for whole genome sequencing to confirm the type of variant.

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“This process can take several days to complete.

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

Across Northern Ireland, no further Covid-19 deaths were recorded by Stormont’s Department of Health on Monday, although 54 more confirmed cases of the virus were notified.

On Monday there were 16 confirmed Covid-19 in hospital, one of whom was in intensive care.

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