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THE FIRST CASE of coronavirus has been confirmed on the island of Ireland after a woman travelled from northern Italy to Dublin and onto Northern Ireland.

  • Anyone who was in contact with the Covid-19 patient has now been contacted, Department of Health officials have said
  • In an interview this morning, Minister for Health Simon Harris declined to provide more details about how the woman travelled from Dublin to Northern Ireland
  • Speaking at the launch of a public awareness campaign at Dublin Airport, Harris said health officials will put the “maximum amount” of information into the public domain while respecting patient confidentiality
  • Public health officials are saying that the advice for the public has not changed. 

We kept you up to date with all the latest news throughout the afternoon.

As we hit 5pm, that’s it for this afternoon’s liveblog. 

Thanks for sticking with us, today’s updates can be read below. 

Dr Kim Roberts, Assistant Professor of Virology at Trinity College Dublin, has told TheJournal.ie what the best ways are to help stop the spread of Covid-19: 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

northern-ireland-helicopter-emergency-medical-service Northern Ireland Minister for Health Robin Swann Source: Liam McBurney via PA Images

In his statement, Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann said advice to the public regarding Covid-19 remains the same. 

  • Members of the public who have symptoms and are concerned they have have Covid-19 are urged not to turn up at GP clinics or hospital emergency departments. 
  • They should instead contact their GP or GP out-of-hours. 
  • Advice will then be given on next steps, including testing if required. 
  • A Northern Ireland helpline has also been established on 0300 200 7885 and is available 24/7 to provide advice. 
  • More general advice about coronavirus is available at the Public Health Agency website. 

“My Department and the Public Health Agency will continue to provide updated guidance to health care professionals and other departments and their authorities, including schools, as and when necessary,” Swann said. 

“It is important that we continue to remain calm and focused on containment at this point. The risk to individuals in Northern Ireland has not changed at this stage. We will, however, continue to plan and be ready for all eventualities,” he added. 

“My priority as Minister is to ensure that all effective measures continue to be put in place in Northern Ireland.” 

Swann will make an oral statement to the Assembly on Monday to update Members on developments. 

Northern Ireland Minister for Health Robin Swann has said Public Health Agency personnel “are working rapidly to identify” anyone the individual diagnosed with Covid-19 in the North has had contact with. 

The individual had a presumptive positive Covid-19 result yesterday. Swann said that in line with established protocols, this test has been sent to Public Health England laboratories for verification. This is expected to take 24 hours. 

“The patient is receiving appropriate specialist health care in keeping with expert advice and agreed procedures,” Swann said. 

He added that “it was not unexpected that at some point we would have a positive case in Northern Ireland”. 

“We have been preparing for cases of Covid-19 and the health service is well used to managing infections and have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately,” he said. 

WHO’s Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the moment, they are seeing “linked epidemics of Covid-19 in several countries, but most cases can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases”. 

“We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities,” he said. 

“As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this coronavirus, if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts.” 

The World Health Organization has increased its assessment of the risk and spread and the risk of impact of Covid-19 to “very high at a global level”. 

Speaking during a press conference this afternoon, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization said that the “key to containing the virus is to break the chain of transmission”. 

He confirmed that work is progressing on the development of Covid-19 vaccinations. 

“More than 20 vaccines are in development globally. We expect the first results in a few weeks,” he said. 

There has been a lot of talk about self-isolation and Covid-19. But what exactly does that mean and when does someone need to do so? 

Dr Kim Roberts, Assistant Professor of Virology at Trinity College Dublin explains below: 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he has been briefed this morning by Ministers Simon Harris and Eoghan Murphy regarding Covid-19 and Storm Jorge. 

“Want everyone to know that under the Constitution, the government continues to have full authority to deal with floods, severe weather events and threats to public health,” Varadkar said. 

“We are and will remain focused on this work for the coming days.” 

As of today, 83,396 cases of Covid-19 have been reported.

China is by far the country worst affected. Globally 2,858 deaths have been reported, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 2,789 of those have been in China.

The first confirmed case on the island of Ireland was announced last night by authorities in Northern Ireland.

According to the most extensive study done so far, the novel coronavirus was benign in 80.9% of cases, “serious” in 13.8% and “critical” in 4.7%. The remaining 0.6% was not specified.

Part of the reason Covid-19 has been declared a public health emergency is due to the speed at which it has spread compared to other coronaviruses (like Sars and Mers) and the fact that there’s a lot about the disease we still don’t know – including how exactly it’s being transmitted.

Harris urging people to make sure they get their information from reputable sources: 

Simon Harris has said there will be “absolute transparency” about the spread of Covid-19. 

He said people will learn of any important developments, such as a confirmed case, in a timely manner.

“There’s no need to keep refreshing your Twitter feed,” he added. 

Health officials will put the “maximum amount” of information into the public domain with respect to patient confidentiality. 

01 Harris COVID Minister Harris speaking to members of the media in Dublin Airport today. Source: Sam Boal

Minister Simon Harris has sought to reassure anyone who is concerned that they may have come into contact with the confirmed Covid-19 case in the North, if they haven’t been contacted by health authorities they are not at risk.

Harris stressed that it is not true that people who have come into contact with the disease are wandering the streets.  

HSE specialist in public health medicine, Dr Sarah Doyle, has reminded people about the importance of washing hands and other hygeine measures to protect against the coronavirus.

The woman in Northern Ireland who tested positive for Covid-19 is confirmed to have travelled on an Aer Lingus flight. 

A spokesperson for Aer Lingus confirmed this afternoon that the woman in question travelled on one of the airlines’ flights to Dublin. 

The British Foreign Office has said it is investigating Japanese news reports that a British man who was aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has died from Covid-19. 

British Health Minister Jo Churchill said today she was aware that a British man who had been on board the cruise ship was “very poorly”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “The Foreign Office are supporting the family of a British man who has been very poorly and was a passenger on board the Diamond Princess.

I haven’t had confirmation, because obviously I’m on the telephone to you, but I was aware there was a gentleman who was very, very poorly, and I’m sure like me your thoughts and sympathies go out to his family at this time.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has arrived in Dublin Airport and is gettting an update from members of staff. 

Here are the scenes in the airport today as the HSE activates its public awareness campaign on Covid-19.

04 Dublin Airport Staff at Dublin Airport today activating the public awareness campaign for Covid-19. Source: Sam Boal

02 Dublin Airport Members of the public in Dublin Airport today. Source: Sam Boal

01 Dublin Airport A passenger wearing a face mask in Dublin Airport today. Source: Sam Boal

Why are mass gatherings a problem when it comes to preventing the spread of viruses including Covid-19? 

Earlier this week, the IRFU postponed next month’s Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy after recommendations from the Department of Health.

On Tuesday, the organisers of the St Patrick’s Festival said they will “follow the advice” of all relevant authorities over the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Dr Kim Roberts, assistant professor of virology at Trinity College Dublin, said slowing down transmission of Covid-19 would reduce the risk of “big peaks of cases” which could overwhelm health services. 

“If somebody who doesn’t quite realise that they’re ill yet goes to a big mass gathering, like the rugby match, they could then instead of spreading the virus to three people, they could spread that virus to many, many more people, each of those people then go back to their communities and you can see how the number of cases could spread very, very rapidly,” Roberts told TheJournal.ie. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The advice being offered to passengers in Dublin Airport (and elsewhere) from the HSE is: 

If you have been to a region affected by Covid-19 in the last 14 days and do have symptoms, you should:

  • Stay away from other people
  • Phone your GP without delay
  • If you don’t have a GP, phone 112 or 999

If you have been to a region affected by Covid-19 in the last 14 days and don’t have any symptoms, visit the HSE website for advice. 

The same advice is in place for anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of Covid-19 in the last 14 days. 

The symptoms of Covid-19 are: 

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever

A  HSE stand has been in place at Dublin Airport for the past few days, offering information to passengers about Covid-19. 

The stands are also set to be put in operation at Ireland’s other airports. 

My colleague Céimin Burke is at Dublin Airport this afternoon where Simon Harris is due to meet with airport staff about the public awareness campaign for the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

Tourists quarantined in a hotel in Tenerife have been offered some entertainment in the form of books and games by an international school on the island.

Guests started to leave the locked-down hotel this morning after undergoing screening for Covid-19. 

Jon Green, CEO of Wingate School in Arona, organised the donations after seeing tourists on the news complaining of boredom in the quarantined hotel. 

Green’s mother Margaret, who has lived on the island for almost 50 years, visited a local bookshop who gave her more than 100 books for free.

Green was able to deliver the gifts to the hotel among the heavy security surrounding its entrance. 

“I just hope that this goes some way to help relieve some of the frustration they must be experiencing and to let them know that people in Tenerife care about their plight,” Jon Green said. 

embedded3483962 The note left with the donated books and games. Source: PA

embedded3484006 The donated books and games. Source: PA

The Enterprise fleet of trains that services the Dublin to Belfast route has been sanitised as a “precautionary measure” after the confirmed case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Although it is not yet clear if the woman diagnosed with the coronavirus travelled on this train service from Dublin to Belfast, Irish Rail spokesperson Barry Kenny said the fleet of trains “undertook a sanitising clean” overnight as a “precautionary measure”. 

Authorities have said they will not comment on the type of public transport the woman used after leaving Dublin Airport. 

At a press briefing in Dublin this morning, Dr John Cuddihy, HSE director of public health, said only a “small number” of people who were in “close contact” with the woman on the plane and public transport on which she travelled have been contacted and given appropriate advice. Other passengers who were not in close contact have also been contacted.

“Anyone who needs to be contacted has been,” Cuddihy said. 

Read more about this story from my colleague Órla Ryan here

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is charing an emergency meeting of the government’s Cobra continencies committee on the coronavirus outbreak today. 

There are 16 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom as of this morning. 

The HSE has published a video about hand hygeine which can help to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

It may seem like common sense, but it is good to remember there are simple ways to reduce the spread of infection. 

Cleaning your hands regularly with alcohol rub or soap and water is the most effective way of stopping the spread of infections, the HSE advise. 

Nigeria reported the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa earlier today. 

The virus has emerged in every continent now except Antarctica. 

In drastic measures, the government in Switzerland announced it would be banning all “public and private” events in the country involving more than 1,000 people in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19.

2.50821641 Covid-19 cases in Europe as of this morning. Source: PA

The woman in Northern Ireland who has been diagnosed with a case of Covid-19 travelled through Dublin Airport on her way back from northern Italy. 

Why wasn’t this woman, and others travelling from regions known to have cases of Covid-19, screened at the airport to prevent the virus spreading?

Dr Cillian De Gascun, chairman of the Department of Health’s Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group said that this screening is “not a good use of resources”.

“It’s not terribly effective because the majority of people won’t necessarily be symptomatic when they pass through an airport,” he explained to TheJournal.ie recently. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Let’s take a step outside Ireland for a minute and see how many cases have been confirmed around the world so far.

As of today, there are: 

  • 83,396 confirmed cases worldwide 
  • 2,858 deaths 
  • 14 deaths in the EU / EEA / Switzerland / UK / San Marino 
  • 815 cases in the EU / EEA / Switzerland / UK / San Marino 

It is important to remember that according to the most extensive study done so far, the novel coronavirus was benign in 80.9% of cases, “serious” in 13.8% and “critical” in 4.7%. The remaining 0.6% was not specified.

Part of the reason Covid-19 been declared a public health emergency is due to the speed at which it has spread compared to other coronaviruses (like Sars and Mers) and the fact that there’s a lot about the disease we still don’t know – including how exactly it’s being transmitted.

The World Health Organisation published a useful video about the facts behind Covid-19, although some more information has been found on the virus since the video was published at the end of January. 

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)/YouTube

Orla Dwyer here taking over the liveblog from my colleague Dominic McGrath.  

The Department of Justice has issued a statement today regarding the citizenship ceremonies taking place on 2 and 3 March in Killarney. 

Covid-19 has not led to the cancellation of these ceremonies and they are set to proceed as planned. However, those attending will be notified with the following information today about steps to take for anyone who might have the virus. 

Those who are planning to attend should isolate themselves at home, not attend the ceremony and phone their GP immediately if: 

  • They have returned from a Covid-19 affected region in the last 14 days, or were in close contact with a confirmed/probable Covid-19 case in the last 14 days
  • AND have Covid-19 symptoms – cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or fever.

Anyone who can’t attend the ceremonies next month for these reasons will be invited to an alternative ceremony held on or before 17 April. 

Citizenship candidates are advised to visit the department’s website for ongoing updates on this issue. 

In an interview with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One, Minister for Health Simon Harris was pressed on why he couldn’t give more details on how the woman travelled from Dublin to Northern Ireland. 

Harris largely repeated the message from the media briefing this morning, saying that “anybody who come in close contact with the patient has been contacted by the health authorities”. 

“If you have not been contacted by the health authorities, you do not need to worry,” he said. 

Harris said that as soon as someone tests positive for Covid-19, they’re interviewed to determine who they might have come in close contact with. 

“The entire patient journey has been tracked. The patient has been interviewed and spoken to,” he said. 

Harris said the important thing was to be aware of misinformation and he said that in determining what information to provide he was taking “guidance and advice from the public health experts”. 

coronavirus Minister for Health Simon Harris was speaking on RTÉ Radio One this morning. Source: Brian Lawless/PA Images

You’ve heard a lot about self-isolation over the last few days. At this morning’s briefing, which is now over, the three officials re-iterated that same message:

If a person comes back from a high-risk area and has symptoms, they should contact their GP, self-isolate and follow official advice. 

Here’s some more guidance on what exactly self-isolation means from this comprehensive piece by my colleague Michelle Hennessy 

To self-isolate:

  • Stay at home or in your hotel room on your own with a phone
  • Do not go to work, school, religious services or public areas
  • Do not use public transport or taxis
  • Avoid having visitors to your home

It’s important to keep away from older people, those with long-term medical conditions or pregnant women.

People who have returned from an affected area, but who haven’t had contact with another person who has the virus and who are not feeling sick themselves, do not need to self-isolate.

The main message from that briefing was that the case in Northern Ireland doesn’t change anything here. 

Further cases here, the public health officials said, are expected – but they said that the HSE is ready and prepared. 

Here’s a short video of Dr John Cuddihy, Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn briefing the media this morning. 

“Anyone who needs to be contacted has been contacted,” says Cuddihy. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The three public health officials were asked about how people who might have been in contact with the Covid-19 patient in Northern Ireland were contacted. 

The officials are stressing that they will be keeping the woman’s identity confidential, but said:

Each of the stages of the person’s journey have been identified and all relevant contacts on all of those stages of transport have been contact traced.

On the issue of temperature checks at Dublin Airport, Holohan said again that they wouldn’t be happening “because it doesn’t work”. 

Cuddihy says ambulance drivers and medical staff in emergency departments have been given “very specific” infection precaution guidance. 

He says that the “pathways” in place in hospitals are being checked regularly, as are supplies of personal protective equipment to ensure they are “adequate”. 

Dr Ronan Glynn has said that “it wouldn’t be a surprise to us if there were further cases in the days to come, but again that won’t change our containment strategy”. 
He said if a person comes back from a high-risk areas and has symptoms, they should contact their GP, self-isolate and follow the advice from the health services. 
Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer, echoes this: “We anticipate [a case in Ireland].”
“We think it’s likely that another case or cases could be imported into this country, like it was in Northern Ireland,” he says.

“Infectious diseases do not respect borders.”

That’s the message from Dr Tony Holohan this morning.

Holohan has told the media that a case on the island is “not a surprise”.

As things stand, there is no change to how the government deals with public gatherings, but the government will continue to monitor the situation.

On the specifics of the case in Northern Ireland, Dr John Cuddihy said that only a “small number” of people were in “close contact” with the woman on the plane and public transport on which she travelled.

These people have all been contacted and given advice. “Anyone who needs to be contacted has been,” Cuddihy said. 

It’s believed the woman travelled from Dublin to Belfast on a train but this has yet to be confirmed.

Back to the briefing, Dr Tony Holohan – the Chief Medical Officer – has said that Irish authorities are ”working with Northern Irish authorities to do the appropriate follow-up”.

The case in Northern Ireland, he said, doesn’t change Ireland’s “extensive preparedness plans”.

Holohan said that the person in Northern Ireland identified themselves to the authorities, following public health advice.  

More than 100 people have now been tested here and all have come back negative. 

On the case in Northern Ireland, anyone thought to be in contact with the Covid-19 patient has now been contacted. 

As a reminder, this is what the HSE said last night about contacting people:

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.

Our reporter Órla Ryan is at the briefing at the Department of Health this morning. 

We’ll be bringing you the latest updates as they arrive. 

IMG_20200228_094005 Dr John Cuddihy, Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn at the briefing this morning. Source: TheJournal.ie

The Department of Health has said that all people identified as a close contact of the Covid-19 patient in Northern Ireland have been notified. 

The Department of Health briefing on Covid-19 will begin in a few minutes. We’ll bring you the latest here on the government’s response after a case was confirmed in Northern Ireland. 

How is Ireland preparing for coronavirus? 

Well, here are some important statistics.

The HSE has bought 700,000 gowns, 1.7 million gloves, over 1 million masks, and 400,000 glove and mask protections.

And people do seem to be seeking out information. The HSE page for coronavirus has received 725,000 impressions on Google, and 307,00 page views. 

Perhaps most importantly, over 100 tests have been carried out so far – but no positive cases have been confirmed. 

For more, give this piece a read

shutterstock_1395856604 Source: Shutterstock/Derick Hudson

For more on the economic impact of coronavirus, the Guardian’s front page today has something of a dire warning. 

The paper writes that global companies such as Microsoft, PayPal and Standard Chartered are all forecasting disappointing profits. 

It reports:

Fears over the spread of coronavirus have prompted a record plunge in the US stock market, as analysts warned the outbreak could wreak economic havoc on a scale not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

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It should come as no surprise that airlines are particularly worried about the coronavirus outbreak even as the wider economy braces for the impact of the virus. 

Press Association is reporting this morning that airline earnings have been hit by “weaker demand” on Asian and European routes. 

Willie Walsh, the CEO of International Airlines Group – which owns British Airways and Aer Lingus – said it could lead to the closure of some “failing” airlines. 

“We are well able to adjust to this situation because our business is in great shape. It’s the failing airlines who will be most affected by this… so without question, there will be more consolidation as a result,” he said.

Are you entitled to sick leave from work if you have to self-isolate? 

Things aren’t entirely clear. In this piece by our reporter Conor McCrave, he writes:

Not all employees are entitled to sick leave if they have to self-isolate for the two-week period recommended by the HSE, leaving both employers and their staff worried about what will happen if Ireland experiences a similar outbreak of the virus as other European countries have. 

Employment experts are warning that there is an onus on employers to have a “contingency plan” in place if staff report systems of the virus. 

“We don’t think most organisations are really prepared, so they need to sit down and do, let’s call it a contingency plan, about what to do if this happens,” one expert says. 

My colleague Daragh Brophy has also written up a useful run down of where things stand this morning. 

He answers what’s happened, what happens now and what is the advice for people returning from affected areas. 

download (7) Dr Tony Holohan will be briefing the media at the Department of Health this morning. Source: PA Images

Here’s a handy graphic from the World Health Organisation on the current distribution of Covid-19 around the world. 

WHO Source: World Health Organisation

The fact we do have a case on the island does probably mean there’ll be more scrutiny on whether or not Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations should go ahead. 

Already, the Six Nations game between Ireland and Italy has been cancelled and “mass gatherings” are under scrutiny by the government. 

Yesterday, the organisers of the festival said it is waiting on a risk assessment report before making any decisions on potentially postponing or cancelling the event. 

In a statement, organisers said: 

“We have underscored the very urgent need for this documentation to be made available to the festival, so that an informed and prompt decision can be made regarding our forthcoming events. We have clarified to the relevant authorities our readiness to respond in whatever way is required of us in the best interests of public safety.”

St Patricks 471 St Patrick's Day celebrations in Dublin last year. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

More now on that case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland. 

The person who tested positive was a woman, but no other personal details are known. 

RTÉ is reporting that she was tested at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and was then allowed to return home where she’s receiving specialist medical treatment. 

She was returning from Italy, a major virus hotspot in Europe. After returning to Ireland, the individual reported her concerns to a GP and “self-isolated” at home for the result of the test. 

A lot of people on social media have been talking about screening at airports and why the government isn’t introducing travel restrictions. 

That talk is only likely to increase following the news that the person diagnosed with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland travelled through Dublin from northern Italy. 

As things stand, the government is advising Irish citizens not to travel to a number of Italian towns, but is not placing any restriction on those travelling from affected areas. 

And when it comes to screening at airports, public health experts say that screening at airports would not be a good use of resources. 

“It’s not terribly effective, because the majority of people won’t necessarily be symptomatic when they pass through an airport,” says Cillian F De Gascun, director of the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory. 

There may be certain situations where you might target a specific flight from a specific region at a specific point in time, but as a general mechanism, it’s not recommended as a good use of resources. And it’s not recommended as an effective means of screening individuals.

If you want something to listen to later this morning, the latest episode of The Explainer is out. 

In this episode, the team tries to cut through the scaremongering to answer your questions with facts and the most up-to-date information from experts on coronavirus. 

If you still have questions you want answered, here at TheJournal.ie we’re looking for you to send them to us so we can ask the experts. Find out more here.


Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

Closer to home, Irish churches are taking precautions in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The shaking of hands and taking communion on the tongue are being discouraged in Dublin churches. 

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Dublin said that Dublin parishes are currently been told to follow the advice for “when flu or an epidemic is circulating”

Parish priests are being told to take the normal precautions for flu season, which advises people that anyone with flu symptoms are not obligated to attend Mass and calls for the frequent changing of water and cleaning of holy water fonts. 

A similar approach is being taken across the country. 

For more details, read this piece

Let’s take a quick look at what’s happening in the rest of the world. 

Press Association is reporting that Chinese authorities have recorded another sharp decrease in the number of infections from the Covid-19.

Mainland China reported 327 new cases and 44 deaths in the 24 hours to Friday morning, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

The update brings China’s total number of cases to 78,824 and deaths to 2,788, while more than 3,600 infections have been reported outside China.

However, around the world the number of cases continues to rise. 

According to World Health Organisation figures, globally 82, 294 cases have been confirmed. Nine new countries – Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, and North Macedonia – reported cases of coronavirus over the last 24 hours. 

In the meantime, read this piece from my colleague Michelle Hennessy on what the symptoms of the virus are and what protocols are in place to deal with suspected cases. 

She writes:

Health experts have said patients who have the virus mainly have symptoms around the top of their chest. 

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

There may be cases where a person becomes infected but does not develop any symptoms.

As a reminder, as things stand there has been no confirmed case of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland.

So what happens now? 

At 9.30am this morning Dr Tony Holohan will be providing an update on Ireland’s preparedness for Covid-19 at the Department of Health offices in Dublin. 

He’ll be joined by Dr John Cuddihy, the Director at the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. 

We’ll be at that briefing later and will bring you all the latest details.. 

As things stand, advice to the public has not changed. 

Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer at the Department if Health, emphasised again last night that 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,” he said. 

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.

First, more details on that case of Covid-19. 

A woman travelled from northern Italy to Dublin, and travelled onto Northern Ireland.

Health authorities here said yesterday that the HSE will seek to contact anyone who sat within two rows of the affected person on the plane.

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said: “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.”

Now, the focus turns to the cross-border efforts to contain the spread of the virus. In a statement yesterday evening, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that “the general public should continue to adhere to the public health protocols issued by the Department of Health”.

listing Chief medical officer in Northern Ireland Dr Michael McBride speaking at a press conference in Belfast last night.

Good morning, Dominic McGrath here.

Last night, the Northern Ireland Public Health Agency confirmed that a case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in the North – making it the first confirmed case of the virus on the island of Ireland.

We’ll be bringing you the latest on the response here in Ireland as the number of cases around the world continues to increase.

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