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Covid-19: Two new cases in Northern Ireland, total in Britain increases to 84

The news comes after the second case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the Republic of Ireland yesterday.

Image: PA Images

Updated Mar 4th 2020, 6:48 PM

TWO MORE CASES of the Covid-19 coronavirus have been detected in Northern Ireland, as the total number of cases in Britain has risen to 84. 

The news comes after the second case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the Republic of Ireland yesterday and a separate case was confirmed in Northern Ireland last Thursday.

“Testing of patients in Northern Ireland has resulted in two further presumptive positive results for coronavirus (Covid-19), bringing the total to three since testing began,” a Stormont Department of Health statement said. 

These test outcomes have been now sent to Public Health England laboratories for verification.

The Department said the two cases are not connected.

One of the individuals recently travelled from Northern Italy. The other had recent contact with a person elsewhere in the UK who has subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

“Both patients are adults and are receiving appropriate care. Public Health Agency personnel are working rapidly to identify contacts they may have had, with the aim of preventing further spread,” the statement said.

Queen’s University Belfast confirmed this evening that it has been informed by the Public Health Agency of a presumptive positive case of Covid-19 within the university, without confirming whether a staff member or student was affected. 

“The university is working with the Public Health Agency to ensure that anyone who has been in contact with the infected individual is identified and supported to receive medical attention if required, and to take all steps to contain any further spread of the virus and to protect the welfare of all within the university community and the wider public,” the statement issued by the university said. 

The university currently remains open and is operating as normal. Online guidance has been issued for staff and students. 

Tweet by @Queen's University Belfast 🎓 Source: Queen's University Belfast 🎓/Twitter

Republic of Ireland updates

The Department of Health here confirmed in a statement this evening that the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been informed of the two new cases in the North. 

“We now understand there are three confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, five in total on the island of Ireland,” Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said. 

The contact tracing process for the second case in the Republic of Ireland is still underway.

“Given that Covid-19 is a new disease it is understandable that its emergence may give rise to anxiety and fear among the general public. These factors can also give rise to harmful stereotypes,” Dr Holohan said. 

This virus knows no borders or race. Restricting travel into Ireland does not form a component of our current response. We must continue to focus on ensuring that everyone is informed and knows what to do in the event they develop symptoms. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One earlier today, Health Minister Simon Harris said that restricting flights arriving from northern Italy, one of the areas affected by a large Covid-19 outbreak, “wouldn’t be effective”. 

He said suspending flights from the affected Italian areas would not work for “a variety reasons”, stating that it would not prevent people from those areas arriving into Ireland through other member states. 

Harris noted that the issue is being “kept under constant review” on a daily and hourly basis. 

His comments come following new advice from new advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that non-essential travel to four Italian regions should now be avoided.

The advice against travelling refers to the Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna regions in northern Italy. 

Authorities in Italy have confirmed this evening that all schools and universities in the country will close until mid-March due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19 in the country. 

In his comments this evening, Dr Holohan said that “it is essential that any decisions regarding responses to Covid-19 are proportionate, necessary and based on specific public health advice”. 

“No other response is appropriate,” he said. 

Dr Ronan Glynn added at this evening’s briefing that there’s no need for members of the general public to wear face masks unless they themselves feel ill. 

In relation to the use of hand sanitiser, Dr Glynn said the single most effective and cheapest measure a person can use is washing their hands. 

Globally, over 90,000 cases and more than 3,100 deaths from Covid-19 have been confirmed, according to figures from the ECDC.

Looking at the British figures, three of the 32 new cases recorded in England were passed on in the UK.

The DFA is also advising against non-essential travel to mainland China, Iran and the Daegu and Cheongdo areas of South Korea.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Latest HSE advice

The HSE’s main advice page on the coronavirus has been changed overnight to note the new case in the Republic. 

In a section detailing the risk of catching the virus, the latest advice says:

The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still low. 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
  • Living in the same house as an infected person

More details on how to protect yourself from Covid-19 are available on the HSE website

With reporting by Seán Murray, Rónán Duffy and Press Association

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