The first confirmed cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 have been detected in the North.
Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said three cases of the variant have been confirmed.
The minister said a detailed health protection risk assessment and contact tracing response have been deployed and the risk of transmission has been judged to be low.
— Department of Health (@healthdpt) February 23, 2021
“I have previously been clear that identification of a confirmed case or cases of this variant in Northern Ireland was inevitable at some point,” said Mr Swann.
“This development does not mean that this variant is going to become the most prevalent, or the dominant strain in Northern Ireland.
“However, it does underline once again the very real need for continuing caution in relation to Covid-19.”
There are currently no international flights arriving directly into the North. People who do enter the region from Britain or the Republic are asked to self-isolate for 10 days.
Mr Swann added: “The best way to stop variants developing or spreading is to keep pushing down infection rates and transmission of the virus in our community.
“All variants of the Sars-CoV-2 virus spread in the same way – and we all have an important role to play in stopping the spread of this virus, by following the tried and tested public health advice.
“That means staying at home, cutting down your contacts if you have to go out, avoiding busy indoor settings with poor ventilation, washing your hands carefully and often, and wearing a face covering.”