Swann urges public to use Digital Self Trace

Date published: 28 July 2021

Health Minister Robin Swann has urged anyone who receives a positive test result for COVID-19 to use the digital self- trace option for contact tracing.

ballymena visit
Health Minister Robin Swann with Andrew Dougal, Liz Mitchell, Aidan Dawson and Gary Middleton during visit to County Hall, Ballymena

The Minister was speaking during a visit to County Hall, Ballymena along with Junior Minister Gary Middleton to see at first hand The Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Contact Tracing Service (CTS).  

While there Ministers met and thanked staff involved in the delivery of the service during what has been a period of extremely high service demand.

Minister Swann said:- “The alarming increase in case numbers in recent days and weeks should serve as a clear warning that this pandemic is far from over. Only through continuing vigilance and our collective effort will we get through this - we all want to enjoy the summer but we must continue do so safely.

“Contact tracing is critically important, and is at the forefront of our continuing efforts to break chains of transmission and the digital self- trace option remains the quickest way to alert close contacts,” Minister Swann said.

“I hear increasing references to a ‘pingdemic’ which is of significant concern to me. This serves only to trivialise the very real dangers that we collectively still face from COVID-19. I do not say this to cause alarm but to remind everyone that we must all continue to play our part in helping to stop the spread of the virus.”

Junior Minister Gary Middleton said: “I was pleased to have this opportunity to see the Contact Tracing Service in action today, and meet some of the people involved. The staff here in Ballymena are a key part of the ongoing fightback against Covid. They join colleagues across the health service in the tremendous efforts tackling this pandemic, and we are all thankful for the work they do.

“At County Hall you get a sense not only of the measures in place to stop the Covid spreading, but also the enormity of what is required. This is a collective endeavour - and it’s everyone’s responsibility.

“The public can play a big part in helping to stop the spread of the virus. In addition to getting the vaccine and following the public health guidelines, they can help by making sure their close contacts are alerted as quickly as possible.”

Junior Minister Declan Kearney said: “Contact tracing continues to play a vital role in preventing the transmission of Covid-19 in our community.

“The hard-working staff at the Public Health Agency’s Contact Tracing Centre in Ballymena have played an important part in our fight against the virus throughout the pandemic. And with case numbers rising again due to the spread of the Delta variant, their work continues to be crucial as we try to halt the spread of infection.

“We are well on the road to recovery, but Coronavirus is still a significant threat. It is vital that anyone who tests positive shares details of their contacts and self-isolates. We must all continue to play our part in the fight against Covid-19 by following the public health advice.”

During their visit Ministers Swann and Middleton also met the newly appointed Chief Executive of the PHA, Mr Aidan Dawson, the Non-Executive Chair of the Board of the PHA, Mr Andrew Dougal and Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, Director of Contact Tracing.

Notes to editors: 

1. A close contact could apply to someone who:

  • spends significant time in your household;
  • is a sexual partner;
  • has had face-to-face contact (within 1 metre), including being coughed on or having skin-to-skin physical contact;
  • has been within 1 metre of you for one minute;
  • has been within 2 metres of you for more than 15 minutes;
  • has travelled with you in a vehicle.
  • It would not be considered close contact if your interaction took place solely through a Perspex (or equivalent) screen or while one of you was wearing full medical-grade PPE in a health or social care setting.

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