Halifax bank closes call centre of 1,000 workers after one catches coronavirus

A Halifax bank call centre in Northern Ireland has sent about 1,000 staff home after one employee tested positive for coronavirus.

The Halifax operation in the Gasworks area of Belfast has been temporarily closed for deep cleaning.

It is understood staff have been asked to self-isolate, work from home or from a contingency site.

Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Halifax, said: "The Belfast Gasworks building has been temporarily closed to allow for the appropriate areas of the site to be cleaned, after a colleague based there was diagnosed with Covid-19.

"Our priority is the wellbeing of the individual, as well as the colleagues and visitors to the building. We're closely monitoring the developing situation and continue to follow official guidelines."


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A total of 12 cases have been diagnosed in Northern Ireland so far amid the outbreak, which has killed five people in the UK.

Two schools in County Armagh are already closed for deep cleaning after a young person was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Newtownhamilton High School and primary school share the same site and are expected to reopen next week.

Several sports clubs have also had to take precautionary steps after individual members tested positively.

St Patrick's Day festivities in Belfast are among the events cancelled amid efforts to contain spread of the virus.

On Monday, Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann warned that between 50% and 80% of Northern Ireland's population could ultimately contract the coronavirus in a worst case scenario.

A total 21 cases have been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland so far.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned more than half of the population could contract the virus, as the government unveiled a financial aid package to tackle the outbreak.

The outbreak has struck during a festive and tourism season for Ireland.

St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and is celebrated on his feast day on March 17 every year in towns and cities across Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as around the globe.

The outbreak has led to the cancellation of St Patrick's Day events across Ireland, including Dublin's parade, which is the largest in Ireland and attracted an estimated 500,000 last year.

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