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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Health Minister spells out key testing priorities as England moves on Prime Minister’s plan

The Department of Health will carefully consider the UK Government’s Living With COVID Plan for England and its implications for Northern Ireland.

No decisions have been taken on any changes to Test and Trace in Northern Ireland.

Health Minister Robin Swann said:

“My Department continues to keep all aspects of the COVID-19 test and trace programme in Northern Ireland under review to ensure it remains proportionate and effective.

“Our key priorities for testing include ensuring that it is prioritised for those who need it most. It is also imperative that we have appropriate contingency planning in place, with flexible testing capability which can be rapidly deployed to respond to any future variants or seasonal surges. Robust surveillance systems must also be maintained, to ensure any new developments in the pandemic are swiftly detected.

“Keeping the public safe, in particular those at highest risk of severe illness, will continue to be at the centre of our considerations. Any policy changes will be informed by the latest clinical and scientific advice and consideration of the COVID situation in Northern Ireland.”

The Minister also highlighted the importance of a cautious approach due to the continuing high numbers of daily infections and the continued pressure on hospitals.

He said:

“COVID-19 remains a serious health risk, particularly for those who are vulnerable. It is vital that we do not let our guard down. We can all help to keep the people close to us safe by continuing to make safer choices and following the latest guidance.”

The current guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19 includes:

• getting vaccinated and boosted

• wearing face coverings in health and social care settings, on public transport and in enclosed indoor settings

• meeting outdoors where possible or in well ventilated indoor spaces

• taking a PCR test and self-isolating immediately if you have symptoms

• taking a lateral flow test before mixing with others, particularly vulnerable people


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