Joe Brogan, Assistant Director of Integrated Care Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management has written a letter to all Northern Irish community pharmacy contractors to advise them that the Pharmacy First Service for sore throats, colds & flu-like illness will cease to operate with immediate effect from Monday 16th March 2020.
He outlines that this decision has been made in light of the revised case definition of Covid-19 as published by Public Health England.
Patients with either acute respiratory infection of any degree of severity, including at least one of shortness of breath (difficult breathing in children) or cough (with or without fever) or fever with no other symptoms are being advised not to attend pharmacies.
The letter states that all promotional material relating to the service, including information on websites and social media should be removed.
In related Northern Irish news Health Minister Robin Swann and Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock met at Stormont today for discussions on the Coronavirus threat in the Province.
The meeting at Castle Buildings was also attended by Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride.
Mr Swann stated:
“I very much welcome the Secretary of State’s visit at this critical period. We had very productive discussions on the actions being taken now on Covid 19 and those in the pipeline. The four regions of the UK have been in preparation for months for this virus and those close and well-established working relationships between Ministers and their scientific teams will never have been as important as they are now.
“Whilst there is obviously much attention on whether schools should close, I will continue to be led by the science. At this moment in time, I have no evidence to justify school closures and indeed to do so at this stage may even be counterproductive.
“I would remind everyone that the latest advice is that anyone, even those with mild coronavirus-like symptoms – such as a new persistent cough and/or a fever – to quarantine themselves and stay at home.
“Tomorrow, we will be meeting with senior Irish Government representatives. I remain committed to working in partnership across these islands to protect all citizens.”