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The Taoiseach with Simon Harris.
The Taoiseach with Simon Harris.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/

Covid-19: Taoiseach and Harris hold conference call with authorities in Northern Ireland

There is only one confirmed case on the island of Ireland so far.
Feb 29th 2020, 5:26 PM 12,975 34

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR and Minister for Health Simon Harris held a conference call with counterparts in Northern Ireland this afternoon regarding Covid-19.

It comes after the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland said the region’s first case of coronavirus, which was announced on Thursday, has been confirmed by laboratory tests.

The case was initially announced as a “presumptive positive” on the basis of tests carried out in Northern Ireland.

A sample was then sent to a Public Health England reference laboratory for confirmation. 

So far, it is the only confirmed case on the island of Ireland. 

The Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan said yesterday morning that the development does not change the department’s procedures in responding to the virus. 

Today, Varadkar and Harris joined Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer to speak to Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, health minister Robin Swann and the Northern Ireland chief medical officer.

A government statement said they discussed the situation regarding the virus on the island of Ireland, and also internationally, and noted the good cooperation in place between authorities north and south.

“All agreed to continue with their close cooperation and to remain in close contact in the period ahead,” the statement added.


As of today, 85,203 cases of Covid-19 have been reported. China is by far the country worst affected. Globally 2,921 deaths have been reported, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Again, most of these have been in China.

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.

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