Tonight's Department of Health briefing.

Coronavirus: First case of Covid-19 confirmed in the Republic of Ireland

Health officials have confirmed the first case.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 29th 2020, 10:13 PM

THE FIRST CASE of the Covid-19 coronavirus has been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland.

The Department of Health confirmed this evening that the patient is a male in the eastern part of the country. He is currently receiving medical care.  

The man is believed to have travelled to Ireland from an area in Italy where coronavirus has been detected. 

The HSE is now working to identify people who may have come into contact with the patient. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team said that the case “is associated with travel from an affected area in northern Italy, rather than contact with another confirmed case.”

Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer, said that the case was “not unexpected”. 

“We have been preparing for this eventuality for many weeks now,” he said in a statement. 

“Public health protocols have been in place since January and are operating effectively. The health service is well used to managing infectious diseases and has robust measures in place.”

Dr Cillian De Gascun, a virologist and chair of the HSE’s Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group, said that “nothing really changes for Ireland, we’re still in the containment phase”.

Speaking on RTE One’s Nine O’Clock News, he said that this confirmed case shows that the plan to contain Covid-19 in Ireland works. 

“This person returned from northern Italy, had symptoms, identified themselves, were brought to hospital and confirmed as a positive case for coronavirus. ”

The National Public Health Emergency Team said that the patient was identified and tested “in line with established protocols for the investigation of suspect cases of Covid-19″. 

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been informed of the confirmed case.

In a statement this evening, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that he has notified Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. 

The news of the case comes as the first case was confirmed in Northern Ireland on Thursday last.

Speaking at a Department of Health briefing tonight, Holohan said that the patient followed advice issued by authorities and that this enabled the diagnosis to be made.

Holohan said that the department will be careful about the information about the patient it shares to protect confidentiality but that the department confirms it is a male from the eastern part of the country. 

“We have nothing to hide but something to protect,” Holohan said when it comes to a patient’s confidentiality.

A process is also underway to contact people who made contact with the patient but Holohan said this will take “some time”.

The department did not say which mode of transport was used by the patient after he left Dublin Airport.

The department also said it would provide an update on the total number of people tested in Ireland this coming Tuesday. / YouTube

With reporting by Seán Murray and Rónán Duffy  

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