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Data published on clusters and outbreaks by setting for Northern Ireland


The Department of Health has today published data on the main settings currently associated with clusters and outbreaks of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland.


The information, captured through enhanced contact tracing and public health risk assessments, shows that during the four week period between 18 January and the 14 February 2021 there were 100 outbreaks identified and 258 clusters. Clusters and probable outbreaks identified during this period were mainly associated with workplace and retail settings. A smaller number were associated with other settings including fast food or take-away outlets.


Health Minister Robin Swann said:


“The information on clusters and outbreaks published today is very helpful and shows that for the most part, our ‘stay at home message is working. Whilst the majority of people have been able to work from home throughout this wave and indeed earlier waves of the pandemic, for many this has not been possible. Where people gather and intermingle, there will be a higher chance of clusters and outbreaks occurring and this is reflected in the data published today.”


The report on clusters and probable outbreaks by setting is produced by the Contact Tracing and Health Protection Services in the Public Health Agency and will be published each Thursday.


As we move to a new phase in the pandemic, the public health advice is as important as ever. The Minister recently launched a new campaign to promote distance awareness. He said:


“The Distance Aware Shield will serve as a reminder to others that social distancing remains paramount in the fight against COVID-19. Watch out for anyone wearing the badge, keep your distance, continue to wash your hands well and often and wear a face covering. These measures are still the most effective in pushing down and keeping down infection rates.”


The information does not include data relating to hospitals, care homes, schools or universities or nurseries which are reported separately.


The COVID-19 cluster/outbreak summary is below:



A cluster is defined as two or more test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among individuals associated with a specific non-residential setting with illness onset dates within a 14-day period (in the absence of detailed information about the type of contact between the cases). A cluster may be closed if there are no new test-confirmed cases with illness onset dates in the last 14 days.

An outbreak is defined as two or more test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among individuals associated with a specific non-residential setting with illness onset dates within 14 days and either: identified direct exposure between at least two of the test-confirmed cases in that setting (for example under one metre face to face, or spending more than 15 minutes within two metres) during the infectious period of one of the cases; or when there is no sustained local community transmission - absence of an alternative source of infection outside the setting for the initially identified cases.

An outbreak may be closed if there are no new test-confirmed cases with illness onset dates in the last 28 days.

This report contains the number of outbreaks and clusters by setting over a four week period. It is important to note that whilst the risk of COVID-19 transmission within households is known to be high, outbreaks and clusters related to households are not reported here.

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