Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride has emphasised that the threat from COVID-19 remains very real in Northern Ireland and called on everyone to remain vigilant, continue to follow government guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene.
Dr McBride was speaking after the announcement that with immediate effect the UK's COVID-19 alert level has moved from level 4 to level 3.
“Now is not the time to drop our guard, The decision to reduce the alert level is an acknowledgement that we have moved from a situation where there was a high and rising level of transmission of the virus but it is vital that we remain aware that the virus continues to circulate in Northern Ireland. It still poses a real and continuing threat, particularly to the older and the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Significant risks remain and it is imperative that the hard won progress that has been made through the major sacrifices that have been made by all elements of society are not sacrificed through a false sense of security or complacency being allowed to take hold.
“I cannot stress enough my appreciation of the adherence of people here to the guidance that they have been given. Their public spiritedness and willingness to forego many aspects of life that we all took for granted has helped bring us to where we are now. The virus has not gone away and we must remain constantly on our guard.”
The decision to reduce the level followed a recommendation by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC). The COVID-19 Alert Level is kept under constant review and is based on analysis from the JBC which is assessed and jointly agreed by the four UK CMOs. There are five levels of alert which are:
- Level 1: COVID-19 is not known to be present in the UK
- Level 2: COVID-19 is present in the UK, but the number of cases and transmission is low
- Level 3: a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation
- Level 4: a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially
- Level 5: as level 4 and there is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed.
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