A person has been diagnosed with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland
The first case of coronavirus has been diagnosed in Northern Ireland, it has been confirmed. The Public Health Agency confirmed the news on Thursday evening.
The patient, understood to be a female (though this has not been confirmed, we know an adult is affected), reportedly travelled to Northern Ireland via Dublin after coming from northern Italy in the last 48 hours.
Health authorities here said this evening that the HSE will seek to contact anyone who sat within two rows of the affected person on the plane.
"Public health authorities are working to inform any contacts the patient had in order to prevent transmission. Those at most risk of severe infection and those with most exposure will be contacted first," they said.
Speaking at the press briefing, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland Dr Michael McBride said the person was not part of a school trip.
He added the person in question was self-isolating and did not attend a general GP practice, but is getting specialist care.
"We have been planning for the first positive case in Northern Ireland and have made clear that it was a question of when not if," he said.
“Our advice to the public remains the same. Members of the public who have visited affected regions and have symptoms are advised to self-isolate at home and contact their GP in the first instance. Advice will then be given on next steps, including testing if required.”
Health Minister Simon Harris said the first case on the island "was not unexpected."
“Given the evolving situation this first case of COVID-19 disease was not unexpected. The National Public Health Emergency Team has been planning for this scenario since January," he said in a statement on Thursday evening.
Good teleconference today with Northern Ireland Health Minister @RobinSwannMoH on the ongoing need for cooperation in preparedness for #Covid19 #coronavirus. Agreed to continue to share information and for our Chief Medical Officers to keep in regular contact
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) February 27, 2020
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer in the Dept of Health, said: “The HSE is well-prepared and is working to inform any contacts the patient had in order to prevent transmission.”
“COVID-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person’s body fluids (e.g. droplets from coughing or sneezing), or by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.
“Close contact involves either face to face contact or spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person. The risk of transmission through casual contact is low.”
Over 100 people have so far been tested in the Republic of Ireland, and no case of coronavirus has been confirmed.
The HSE has published the following advice on their website:
The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland
"The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still low," the HSE explains on their website. "This may change. However, most people may continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.
Anyone who knows they have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and has symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever) should:
- isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room, with a phone
- phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112, or 999
- in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999
Close contact means either:
- face-to-face contact
- spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person
See HERE for more information as it becomes available.
Main photograph: @PHE_uk