A small number of medical procedures are not going ahead in Belfast in preparation for Covid-19.
Space is being set aside in the Mater Hospital in the north of the city as health chiefs brace themselves for an increase in the number of cases.
Belfast’s largest hospital is the Royal Victoria but it is the main centre in Northern Ireland for a lot of specialities and contains patients who are immuno-suppressed.
A spokesman for the local health service said: “A very small number of procedures (fewer than five) are not going ahead but the vast majority are continuing.
“Like all trusts, we are planning to provide care for patients who are positive with Covid-19 and who will need hospital care in the coming weeks.
“These arrangements will involve identifying wards and prioritising care for the sickest patients.”
Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride has warned that some medical procedures may need to be cancelled if the worst predictions of coronavirus materialise.
A significant proportion of the population could require hospital care under scenarios being planed for.
The Belfast Health Trust delivers services in the city and cancellation of operations could worsen long waiting times for care.
Its statement added: “Elective surgery has not being cancelled in Belfast Trust.
“We are looking at how best to do this across all our sites and we will work with our staff, Department of Health, Public Health Agency and the Health and Social Care Board.”
A total of 16 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed.
Older people and patients with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes and asthma are more likely to become severely ill.
On Tuesday evening, Irish League football team Linfield FC announced that one of its players had tested positive.
Stormont leaders have cancelled a St Patrick’s trip to Washington DC amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Around 1,000 people work at the virus-impacted Halifax call centre in the Gasworks area of Belfast city centre.
It is understood staff have been asked to self-isolate or work from home or from a contingency site.
Two schools in Co 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 in Co Armagh and are expected to reopen next week.
Several sports clubs have also had to take precautionary steps after individual members tested positive.
St Patrick’s Day festivities in Belfast are among events which have been axed amid efforts to contain the spread of the virus.