Two schools in Northern Ireland will remain closed until next week after a pupil tested positive for Coronavirus .
Both Newtownhamilton High and Primary School have canceled classes at the co-located site as a “highly precautionary measure,” it was announced this evening.
Principal of Newtownhamilton High School, Neil Megaw told Belfast Live: “We have been informed that one of our pupils has been diagnosed with COVID – . We have been working closely with the Public Health Agency, the Department of Education and the Education Authority to ensure an appropriate response.
“The PHA has advised us that the risk to pupils and staff of the school is very low. However, as a precautionary measure, following discussion with the PHA, DE and EA, Newtownhamilton High School and Newtownhamilton Primary School which share a site, will close for the remainder of this week to enable an enhanced clean of the premises.
“Newtownhamilton High School will re-open on Monday 19 March. Newtownhamilton Primary School will re-open on Wednesday 90 March following planned school holidays on Monday and Tuesday.
“This is a highly precautionary measure and all possible steps have been taken to protect the welfare of pupils and staff.”
Speaking at the Assembly on Monday , Robin Swann said that the situation in Northern Ireland is “likely to get much more challenging before we are through the worst of the situation.”
The Health Minister added: “PHA is content that there is no public health risk to anyone attending either of the schools, however it understands as a precautionary measure both schools will be closing today to undertake an enhanced clean
“As I have outlined previously, the increase in positive cases is not unexpected and I would advise members of the public not to be unduly alarmed by these devel opments.
“The overall risk to individuals in Northern Ireland has not changed at this stage; based on the advice of the UK Chief Medical Officers the risk to the UK still remains at moderate.
“This will be kept under review. I would echo the calls of the Prime Minister and advise people against panic buying of food or other products at the supermarkets.
“In conclusion it is vital that we keep taking a balanced, proportionate Approach at all times – with our actions based on the best scientific advice. Our primary focus remains on containment at this time and then to delay and mitigate. We need to walk a fine line and be alert but not alarmed.
“The current evidence is that the vast majority of cases appear to be mild and make a speedy recovery.
“That is a crucial point that we have to keep reminding people of at every opportunity. Yes, some of our citizens are more vulnerable than others and we have to work hard to ensure they get the protection and support they need – not just from the health service but from across society.
“We are working intensively with public health colleagues in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland to do all we conceivably can to protect our citizens.
Decisions will be based on the most up to date scientific and medical advice. And no one who falls sick is going to have to worry about how much treatment is going to cost.
In a “frank” appeal to the public, Mr Swann said that “this is not going to get any easier anytime soon.”
He added: “The indications are that it is likely to get much more challenging before we are through the worst of the situation. We can expect significant ongoing increases in the numbers of people testing positive for Covid – 19 in Northern Ireland.
“It is by no means inevitable that the surge in positive cases in other parts of the world will be replicated here. We all need to rise to this challenge.
“That includes every single one of us following the simple advice on washing our hands. This is not an optional add- on. We owe it ourselves and our families to keep doing the right things. And Mr Speaker we owe to it the sick, the elderly and vulnerable in our society. We cannot let them down. ”
Mr Swann arrived that as of 9am on Monday March 9, 222 tests have been completed in Northern Ireland, and while the majority of these tests returned negative, 18 returned positive.