05 Dec 2021

No Covid-19 patients at Altnagelvin despite rise in local cases


Altnagelvin Hospital has no Covid positive patients at present despite a rise in local cases in the past week.

Figures show 28 positive cases in the council area in the past seven days.

As one of the largest council areas, Derry City & Strabane has managed to contain the virus with local health professionals, amongst others, attributing that to an early self-imposed lockdown.

Out of an estimated 151,000 people living in the council area, 14,576 have been tested to date, returning 268 positive cases.

Overall, the council area still has the second lowest number of cases in Northern Ireland.

Belfast, with a population of 344,000 has tested 39,350 individuals, resulting in the highest number of positive cases - 1,625 - as of yesterday.

According to the latest weekly report from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) there have been 866 Covid-19 related deaths in NI - 29 of those registered in Derry City and Strabane.

There was some unease about an increase in cases in Derry at the beginning of the week.

Derry-based GP, Dr Tom Black, BMA Northern Ireland Council chair said the message from the Health Minister was ‘very clear’, that ‘we need to treat the threat of Covid cases increasing very, very seriously.’

He explained: “There is transmission both within defined settings – like factories, but also in the community. So, no-one can think it’s nothing to do with me, or it’s not going to affect them.

“It is very important that we take individual responsibility for what we are doing.

“Particularly the regulations around indoor gatherings, it is tempting to see more people in your own home but ultimately you are taking a risk on your own health, your families health and your colleagues and communities health.

“The last thing we need coming into the cold and flu season is to see a rise in Covid cases.

“As the Chief Medical Officer said it is important that parents don’t send children to school if they are feeling unwell, keep them at home and if you think they need a test, get a test.

“Our health service is stable at the minute but it could so easily become overwhelmed with patients.

“Wash your hands, cover your mouth, use a face covering, social distance, download the app and if you are told to isolate, isolate.”


Education Minister Peter Weir previously said he was not recommending the use of masks in school.

However, this week he announced that guidance on face coverings will be updated to include wearing them in corridors of post-primary schools.

This will come into effect on August 31 when schools return on a full-time basis.

The minister said the decision was made following further advice from the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser.

Minister Weir commented: “It is also important to remember that evidence suggests that the risk of transmission in schools is relatively low compared to some other settings.

“My existing guidance on the reopening of schools already deals with the use of face coverings. 

“In terms of school transport, the advice remains the same, that we strongly recommend that all pupils wear a face covering on all dedicated school transport including buses and taxis where it is appropriate for them to do so.”

He continued: “In relation to communal areas in schools, the guidance already strongly encourages face coverings for activities that entail large numbers of staff or pupils within an enclosed space where social distancing is not possible.  

“Given the risk mitigations in place in schools to limit and contain the spread of Covid-19, face coverings are not recommended as being compulsory for routine use in education settings. “However, staff and pupils may wish to use them during the routine school day and this is acceptable.

He also advised that parents should not send their children to school if they have any of the Covid-19 symptoms including a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss of smell or taste.

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