A local lockdown cannot be ruled out after a cluster of cases was discovered in County Londonderry, a Sinn Féin MLA has said.
The Public Health Agency identified the cases following a “social gathering” at a house in the Limavady area.
Sixteen new cases of the virus were confirmed on Thursday – nine of them were in the Causeway Coast and Glens council area, which covers the town.
A testing unit has been set up at Limavady’s North West Regional College.
Six GAA clubs in County Derry, including several in the Limavady area, have suspended activity as a “precautionary measure” because of cases in the local community.
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said that if lockdown is needed “then that will happen”.
Dr Gerry Waldron, from the Public Health Agency (PHA), said a local lockdown “is not needed” now but that it was “significant” that positive cases had been identified not just among the people who were at the gathering but also those who attendees have since been in contact with.
“This is really highlighting the importance of people maintaining and keeping advice in terms of social distancing and in terms of their interactions,” he told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme.
He added: “This doesn’t apply here, because we have identified a very discrete event, but if we found a geographical area had a higher rate of Covid-19 and we weren’t finding any specific reason why that might be happening, then a local lockdown is one of the issues that would be considered.
“We can look at what’s happened in Leicester recently – it’s basically rolling back into the restrictions that have recently been used – and we would roll back and recommend that restrictions that had been used would be reintroduced in the specific geographical area.”
Ms Archibald told Good Morning Ulster that “the executive has been clear that if restrictions need to be reimposed” in an area then that would happen.
She added: “It was anticipated that as we began to reopen the economy and society that we may see increased instances and clusters like this.
“That’s where the test, trace and isolate comes in and it’s absolutely critical for us to be able to contain the virus that those procedures are in place.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Nolan Show, Dr Waldron added that while many people may be afraid to answer a call from an unrecognised number, it could be tracers getting in touch to say you have been in contact with a positive case.
He said the number that will appear on your phone if tracers ring you is 02895 368888.
As of Thursday, the total number of confirmed positive cases of the virus in Northern Ireland now stands at 5,815.
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All new confirmed cases are monitored by the PHA to identify potential clusters, outbreaks or linked cases, with infection control advice offered where appropriate.
As well as the mobile testing unit at the North West Regional College in Limavady, there are additional test sites at the City of Derry Rugby Club, the SSE Arena in Belfast, Craigavon MOT Centre and St Angelo Airport in Enniskillen.
Anyone concerned that they have symptoms of coronavirus, which include a raised temperature, a new continuous cough, or a change in their sense of taste or smell, can now be tested.
Tests can be booked at a number of sites around Northern Ireland by visiting the Public Health Agency’s website.
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