People who tested positive for Covid-19 over Christmas have been urged to work with contact tracing teams to help prevent the spread of Omicron
The Public Health Agency (PHA) said there had been a significant increase in demand on its contact tracing service (CTS) as the number of cases increased.
Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, Director of CTS, said: ‘We know the last thing people want to think about this time of year is Covid-19, but unfortunately the coronavirus doesn’t take a Christmas vacation.
“The contact tracing service won’t take a break either, and we’ll be there to work with people to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“Following the recent sharp increase in daily positive cases of Covid-19 across Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency has continued to adjust its operations to help manage the dramatically increased demands of the CTS.
“The unprecedented large increase in cases recently and the spread of Omicron means the service is naturally under pressure, so we ask people to work with us to help us continue to provide a service that helps reduce the spread and ensure the safety of people.
“As soon as you get a positive result, let your contacts know immediately – this means they can immediately take appropriate action to help reduce further infections.
“When you receive an SMS with a code for Digital Self Trace, click on the link and complete it. This will notify your contacts quickly with an official alert.
“Add our CTS number to your phone – (028) 9536 8888 – and keep it nearby so that when you get a call, you know who it’s coming from and can answer it the first time. Fewer missed calls means our trackers can reach more cases faster and get contact information without delay.
“If someone tells you that you are a contact, or if you receive a notification from CTS, follow the steps that are convenient for you. “
Dr Mitchell said the CTS model is constantly revised to meet growing demand.
“We must all continue to take the key steps to avoid contracting Covid-19 in the first place,” she added.
“The vaccine booster can dramatically increase protection against Omicron, and local health departments are undertaking a huge increase in the booster program to support that.
“If you are eligible to receive the booster, please get it. If you haven’t had your first or second jab yet, don’t delay getting them as advised.
Another 3,286 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland with three more deaths, according to the Department of Health
As of Friday morning, there were 256 Covid-positive patients in the hospital, including 34 in intensive care.