Coronavirus given 'notifiable disease' status

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 16:24 -- Editor

Health Minister Robin Swann has expressed his thanks to the Assembly Health Committee for their support, following their agreement to make the coronavirus (Covid-19) a notifiable disease.

The Department intends to make the Public Health Notifiable Disease Order (Northern Ireland) 2020 under powers conferred by section 1(2) of the Public Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1967. The Statutory Rule is subject to negative resolution procedure before the Assembly.

The Statutory Rule will extend the list of notifiable diseases specified in Schedule 1 to the Public Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1967 to include coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The existing Schedule lists 33 diseases, including some relatively common illnesses such as chicken pox and food poisoning. The primary effect of making Covid-19 disease notifiable under the 1967 Act  is to require medical practitioners to share patient information with the Public Health Agency if they become aware, or have reasonable grounds for suspecting, that a person they are attending has coronavirus disease (Covid-19). This information is vital in alerting the Public Health Agency to cases or suspected cases of Covid-19, to help ensure that the Health and Social Care system as a whole can quickly respond, and for surveillance and tracking of the spread and epidemiology of the disease.