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Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced a new approach to TB testing, effective from today.

The Minister has made the decision in response to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of farmers, farm families and DAERA staff.

The Minister said: “We have now moved to update our approach to TB testing - the default position is that TB testing visits should no longer be carried out. Under exceptional circumstances, visits to carry out TB tests may continue if they can be done safely in accordance with the public health guidance.

“As we respond to this fast-paced public health crisis, our primary focus and goal is to protect health and save lives. We have a secondary concern in DAERA and that is to maintain the integrity of the food supply chain and animal welfare, therefore we will keep this position under review as we move through the various stages of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

For each arranged test, the testing veterinarian must discuss the conduct of the test with the herdkeeper before commencing. If the herdkeeper has any doubts or concerns that he/she cannot provide the necessary facilities to maintain social distancing throughout the test, the test should not be undertaken. If a test commences, the testing veterinarian must ensure that social distancing is maintained throughout. If it cannot the test must be abandoned.

FAQ can be found at: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/tb-testing-q

For more information on COVID-19, go to: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19