Coronavirus: Large Co Tyrone school closes after cases confirmed

Holy Cross College in Strabane is co-educational school with about 1,500 pupils

Holy Cross School, Strabane. Photograph: Google Street View

Holy Cross School, Strabane. Photograph: Google Street View

 

A secondary school in Co Tyrone has closed after a number of coronavirus cases were identified in the school.

Holy Cross College in Strabane said it had had to close at “very short notice” on Wednesday morning due to “two further confirmed cases in the school community.”

Two other members of the school tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the school said.

Close contacts had been informed and advised to self-isolate for 14 days, and the school was deep cleaned before staff and pupils arrived on Monday morning.

Holy Cross College is a co-educational school with about 1,500 pupils aged from 11-18 years old.

The West Tyrone MP, Sinn Féin’s Órfhlaith Begley, said the decision to close had been “taken as a precaution for the safety of pupils, school staff and the wider community as a result of rising infection rates.”

This reinforced the call from the North’s Executive, she said, “that this is a crucial time and that everyone must play their part in helping to stop the spread of the virus by following the public health advice and regulations.

“I know this wasn’t an easy decision for the school to take and the safety of pupils and staff is paramount,” she said.

Infection rates have been rising in Northern Ireland, with 963 people testing positive for the virus in the seven days until Tuesday.

New restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the virus by limiting the number of people who can meet in private homes came into force on Tuesday.

Northern Ireland recorded 220 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to Wednesday, according to the North’s Department of Health (DoH). It brings the total number of confirmed cases in the North since the start of the pandemic to 9,761, including 1,078 in the last seven days.

No further coronavirus-related deaths were reported, leaving the total number of fatalities recorded by the Department at 577. More than half of all cases – 680 – identified in the last week were in people aged 39 and under.

However Wednesday’s figures showed hospital admissions are rising, with 41 patients with Covid-19 currently receiving hospital treatment in the North, and six in intensive care.

Alcohol-only pubs welcomed back customers on Wednesday a day after the additional restrictions limiting domestic gatherings were imposed across the country. Additional reporting: PA