The Public Health Agency (PHA) has identified a small number of probable cases of the Delta variant (VOC-21APR-02, first detected in India) in the Kilkeel area.
These early results are suggestive of the variant but this has not been confirmed.
As a precautionary measure we are asking asymptomatic people to get tested in selected, targeted neighbourhoods within the in the Kilkeel area.
This is in advance of confirmation of whether a variant is present so that we can identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases early and reduce the risk of spread in the community.
Testing is opening to everyone in these areas over the age of 5 years old. Households in the areas that this testing covers will be contacted directly by PHA in the coming days.
Dr Stephen Bergin, Interim Director of Public Health at the PHA, said: “This testing in the Kilkeel area is a precautionary measure to identify asymptomatic cases and prevent community spread.
“We encourage all those eligible in the neighbourhoods identified by the agency to present for testing. This is a reminder to everyone through Northern Ireland to 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, keep rooms well ventilated, and if you’re offered the vaccine, book your appointment. Stopping the spread of the virus will help save lives.”
Sinn Féin MLA Sinead Ennis has said reports of possible cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Kilkeel are concerning and encouraged people to cooperate with public health authorities.
The South Down MLA said:
“News from the Public Health Agency of probable cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Kilkeel is concerning.
“The Public Health Agency are encouraging asymptomatic people in the area to get tested to help stop any possible spread.
“I would ask people to follow the public health guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”