Covid: small but steady rise in NI cases, says Derry GP

A Derry GP has warned of the dangers of reinfection with the Covid virus.

Dr Tom Black says people shouldn’t assume that, just because they’ve already had the virus, they’re safe against catching it again.

Dr Black’s warning comes as figures show Covid infections are on the rise again in Northern Ireland.

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The Office for National Statistics said its latest analysis of swabs from households revealed a mixed picture with a “small increase” in positive tests in NI.

Dr Tom Black.

The ONS data suggests that the steady fall in infections over recent months may have gone into reverse as cases are driven up by the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

According to the ONS survey, an estimated 27,700 people in Northern Ireland would have tested positive for Covid in the week ending June 2, up from 24,300 the week before.

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Dr Black, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in NI, told the Journal: “It was always clear the we would have to continue to monitor Covid case levels for some time.

“Our numbers increased so much over the early part of the year that many people have been left feeling that, now they have had it once, they can forget about catching it. However, it is clear that, as the virus mutates, there are risks that people will be re-infected. So, we do need to continue to be careful.

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“I would ask that anyone who has symptoms does a test and, if they are positive, they stay away from anyone who would be vulnerable.”

Dr Black says that, currently, we are seeing a small but steady rise in cases.

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“What we know is that, even if most people do not become seriously ill, there is still a risk to some and a knock-on effect in healthcare service delivery as those cases must isolate.

“Boosters will be offered to certain groups, including the elderly and the clinically vulnerable, and I would encourage those who are eligible for a booster to take it,” he concluded.