Up to 14 members of the same family at centre of Covid cluster in Sligo

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan referenced Sligo Covid-19 cluster

One of a number of travel-related Covid-19 clusters in Ireland involves “up to” 14 members of the same family.

The infections are believed to stem from the arrival back into Ireland last week of a Sligo town-based family of three.

Although not named, the cluster around the family was referenced on Monday night.

Then, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he is "very concerned" about new cases being imported from abroad.

Tony Holohan yesterday specifically pointed out there has been a new travel-related cluster in the northwest of the country as a result of people returning to Ireland from Iraq.

The man at the centre of the cluster returned to Ireland last Monday week with his wife and child from Iraq, where they had been since last February.

They were collected at the airport by the man's brother who drove them home to Sligo.

On arrival, they were greeted by close members of the family.

Last Tuesday, the day after he arrived back, the man, his wife and child were tested.

The results came back positive last Thursday.

Other family members got themselves tested and it now transpires that up to 14 of them have tested positive.

They include the man’s brother, who had collected him at Dublin Airport, and their older brother and his sister-in-law.

They also include his own mother and an aunt.

Although everybody is “fine” and not showing any symptoms, the man's wife has been hospitalised “as a precaution”.

“At the moment, everybody is fine,” the man's brother said. “Nobody is showing any signs of Covid-19.

“But everybody is self-isolating.” 

The man's bother said he wanted to tell his story publicly to ensure the public were aware of the true facts. He has closed down his business as a precaution. Although staff were all tested, none of them tested positive.

Before Dr Holohan referenced the case, incorrect information about it had started to circulate on Facebook.

“There is a lot of incorrect information being circulated about this,” the man's brother said.

“My brother left Ireland back in February before there was any official Covid-19 case in the country.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing but at the time, the airports were still open, there were none of the restrictions that followed and loads of people were flying in and out of Ireland.” It was, he said, while they were over there that “things got serious” and the borders were closed.

With the recent gradual relaxation of travel restrictions around the world, his brother and his wife returned.

“He did everything he was told - he filled out the required contact form at Dublin Airport and he returned to Sligo to self isolate,” the man's brother added.

“He had a meal in my parent's house and then he returned to the apartment he lives in with his wife and child. The next day, on Tuesday, he went for a test and he then returned to his apartment.

“When my brother came back, he was totally fine. If he had any idea he had it, he would have stayed in Iraq rather than bring it back here.”