PHA identifies probable cases of Delta variant of COVID-19 in Derry

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has identified a number of probable cases of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Derry.

By Kevin Mullan
Thursday, 24th June 2021, 5:53 pm

The PHA said early results suggest the more transmissible variant of concern was present in the city but added that is has not yet been confirmed. Probable cases have also been identified in Castlewellan.

Asymptomatic people aged 18-40 years old from selected, targeted neighbourhoods within these areas are being asked to come forward to get PCR tested.

Probable cases of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified in Derry.

This is in order to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases early and reduce the risk of spread in the community, said the PHA.

Those being asked to come forward for testing will be contacted by post from tomorrow.

Dr Bríd Farrell, Assistant Director of Service Development, Safety and Quality at the PHA, said: “Testing in these areas is a precautionary measure to identify asymptomatic cases and help prevent and delay further spread of the virus. By slowing the spread of the virus, this allows us to get more people in the community vaccinated and get protected against COVID-19 which is effective against the Delta variant.

“PCR testing is opening to those in the 18 to 40 age group as we are seeing more cases of the Delta variant in this age group throughout Northern Ireland. We encourage those eligible in the neighbourhoods identified by the agency to book a slot for testing when they receive their letter, and preferably within 24-72 hours of receipt.

“We are seeing cases of the Delta variant across all council areas of Northern Ireland and this is a reminder to everyone that we should take steps now to help reduce the spread of the variant, and avoid becoming complacent."

On Monday when the latest breakdown of COVID-19 figures by postcode were released the BT48 (Derry cityside) and BT31 (Castlewellan) postcode areas had the highest prevalence rates in the north.

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said: “Confirmation from the PHA of probable cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Derry is concerning.

“The PHA is encouraging asymptomatic people, aged between 18 and 40, in the area to get tested to help stop the spread.

“I would ask people to follow the public health guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

Dr. Farrell said the probable presence of the new variant underlined why it is important that all citizens who are able to should get vaccinated.

“Everyone over the age of 18 who has not yet booked their vaccine should do so now – if you have had your first dose, make sure you attend for your second one. Two doses of the vaccine appears to have a high degree of effectiveness against the Delta variant, and getting it will not only help protect you, but also more vulnerable members of our community. Vaccine booking and further information are available at COVID-19 rate dips slightly for second day running

“We should all continue to carry out all public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Continue with good hand and respiratory hygiene, keep your distance of two metres from others where possible, wear a face covering where necessary, and keep rooms well ventilated. Helping to stop the spread of the virus will save lives.”

If anyone develops symptoms of COVID-19, which are a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a change in your sense of taste or smell, please book a PCR test as soon as possible and you and your household must self-isolate when waiting for your test appointment and test result.”

Two mobile testing units will be open from 9am to 3pm daily at the Templemore Sports Complex and Glendermott Church of Ireland, Church Brae, Altnagelvin.

A drive through test facility is also available from 9am to 5.30pm at: The LYCRA Company Car park BT47 6TH, near The Rec Club.

A walk through test facility is also available from 8am to 2pm at: Ulster University Magee Campus, Car Park 3, Rock Road, BT48 7NT