16 Covid-19 clusters identified in NI during contact tracing

16 Covid-19 clusters identified in NI during contact tracing
Coronavirus – Sat Jul 4, 2020

Sixteen Covid-19 clusters have been identified since the start of contact tracing in late May, the PHA in Northern Ireland has said.

A cluster is defined as two or more laboratory confirmed cases among people associated with a workplace, school or similar setting. Illness must begin within 14 days.

A total of 133 cases were associated with these clusters, and six involved more than five cases.

Transmission risk is highest in a household and a significant number of linked cases within households will be identified by efficient contact tracing, so were not reported as clusters, the PHA said.

The organisation added: “Clusters with increasing numbers, increasing complexity between cases, or sensitive issues are brought to the attention of the Health Protection Team.

“A rapid risk-assessment of each cluster is then performed. Clusters may be observed, or merit formation of an Incident Management Team (IMT) or Outbreak Control Team (OCT).”

The PHA said it will not comment on individual cases or go into the detail of every incident that emerges, as this could lead to people being identified, create stigma and focus attention on individuals, families or groups, and deter others with symptoms from coming forward to be tested.

It added: “To date, the majority of clusters that have occurred have been managed effectively through the contact tracing programme, and where we need to advise or inform the public of any increased risk to public health we will do so in a timely manner.”

Close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case will receive a phone call under the tracing system operated by the health authorities.

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