Coronavirus: Prisoner at Maghaberry isolated after testing positive


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Michael Cooper/pa

A prisoner has tested positive for Covid-19 for the first time in Northern Ireland.

The man was remanded in custody to Maghaberry Prison on Thursday.

He was separated from the main prisoner population to ensure the safety of staff and other inmates.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DoJ) said he was being cared for by prison staff and staff from the South Eastern Trust.

His family have also been informed.

In a statement, the DoJ confirmed it was the first positive test of a prisoner in Northern Ireland.

“The robust processes put in place in response to the pandemic have ensured this has been contained, and the Prison Service will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of everyone in our prisons during these challenging times,” the statement said.

Maghaberry Prison is the only Category ‘A’ prison in Northern Ireland and also operates as a remand prison for all adult male prisoners.

Belfast venue closed

Meanwhile, a licensed premises in Belfast has closed after receiving a PSNI prohibition notice on Saturday night.

In a tweet, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the venue was shut down for breaching Covid-19 regulations.

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PSNI

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Chief Constable Simon Byrne and Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride joined a PSNI licensing officer to inspect Belfast City Centre bars and restaurants on Saturday night

Mr Byrne and the Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride joined PSNI officers on routine patrol and licensing checks of bars and restaurants in Belfast city centre.

He said the vast majority were complying with the regulations.

A prohibition notice requires a premises to stop what enforcement officers consider to be unsafe activity – in this case, breaches of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations NI 2020.

The notice means the venue must close and remain shut until police are satisfied it can reopen safely.

Police have previously issued prohibition notices to licensed premises in Banbridge, Irvinestown, Roslea, Tempo, Coleraine, Bangor and Moy.

Health Minister Robin Swann has said he wants to prioritise stronger legislation to deal with the issue.

Meanwhile, daily Covid-19 testing figures released on Saturday showed a significant number of new cases on both sides of the Irish border.

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said 118 new cases have been reported in the past 24 hours.

Its weekend figures are not full statistics and it do not provide details of coronavirus-related deaths.

In the Republic of Ireland, 231 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed.

More than half (58%) of the new infections recorded in the Republic were in Dublin, with 133 positive tests in the county.

Ireland’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn described that as a “significant number” and said it was now “important that people in Dublin keep their social contacts as low as possible”.

On Saturday evening, Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Micheál Martin urged people to “heed the words” of Mr Glynn.

Irish health authorities have opened two “pop-up Covid-19 swabbing centres” at Croke Park and at Castleknock Health Centre in response to the increase in the infection rate in the capital.

County Kildare, which recently emerged from a local lockdown, had the second highest number of new cases on Saturday with 18 positive tests.

This was followed by County Limerick which has 13 new cases.

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Reuters

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More than 250,000 people have been tested in NI

Overall, more than two thirds (69%) of the new cases recorded by the Irish Health Protection Surveillance Centre are people under 45 years of age.

No new coronavirus-related deaths were reported on Saturday so the Republic’s death toll remains at 1,777.

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health’s death toll stands at 564.

However, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra), which produces more comprehensive figures, said on Friday that Covid-19 had been mentioned on 873 death certificates by 28 August.

Since the pandemic began, 250,425 individuals have been tested for Covid-19 across Northern Ireland.

Of those, 7,621 people have tested positive for the virus, meaning that about 3% of the individuals tested have returned a positive result.



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