Man diagnosed with coronavirus in east of country

By Denise O’Donoghue

A man who travelled from Italy to Ireland is receiving medical care after being diagnosed with Covid-19 (coronavirus).

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has been informed of the confirmed case in the eastern part of the country.

The patient was identified and tested in line with established protocols for the investigation of suspect cases of Covid-19.

The case is associated with travel from an affected area in northern Italy, rather than contact with another confirmed case.

"This is not unexpected. We have been preparing for this eventuality for many weeks now," said Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health.

"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 response measures in place."

The HSE is working to establish any contact the patient may have had with others.

"The HSE is now working rapidly to identify any contacts the patient may have had, to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread," said Dr. John Cuddihy, Director of the HPSC.

It is important to note that the risk of transmission through casual contact is low.

Health Minister Simon Harris has notified the Taoiseach of the case.

"This is not unexpected. We have been preparing for this since January," Minister Harris said.

"I would strongly encourage people to follow the guidance and advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team, led by the Chief Medical Officer."

Earlier today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Harris spoke to Northern Ireland officials regarding the coronavirus as a woman is recovering at home in Belfast, after testing positive for the virus.

The Northern Irish woman is this island's first case and contracted the illness after travelling from Italy to Dublin.

Covid-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person’s body fluids, such as droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.

The general public is advised to follow advice from the HSE and the HPSC to protect their health.

Anyone who has been to an affected region in the last 14 days or been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the last 14 and is experiencing symptoms should self-isolate and call their GP.

The affected areas are mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iran and four regions in northern Italy.

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) to show.

    Symptoms may include:

  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties
  • fever (high temperature)
  • Covid-19 (Coronavirus) can also cause more severe illness, including:

  • pneumonia
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties
  • fever (high temperature)
  • Things you can do to protect yourself from getting Covid-19 (Coronavirus) include:

  • wash your hand properly and regularly
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze
  • Wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub:

  • after coughing and sneezing
  • after toilet use
  • before eating
  • before and after preparing food