HSE statement following confirmed case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland

Date Published : February 27th, 2020    Published By : admin

The Covid-19 corona-virus has reached Northern Ireland, the first case diagnosed in the north.

The Norther Ireland Public Health Agency met in Belfast this evening. It’s been confirmed the patient traveled from Northern Italy to the north, via Dublin.

The patient contacted his GP and placed himself into isolation where he is getting specialist care.

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride, "Our health service is well used to dealing with such infections and I want to reassure the public that we are prepared. The risk to population of NI has not changed as a result of this presumptive positive test result."

Efforts are underway to ascertain who else the patient was in contact with in order to stop the Covid-19 from spreading.

CMO McBride said: “We have been planning for the first positive case in Northern Ireland and have made clear that it was a question of when not if. Our advice to the public remains the same. Members of the public who have visited affected regions and have symptoms are advised to self-isolate at home and contact their GP in the first instance. Advice will then be given on next steps, including testing if required.”

Field hospital in Romania. Photo: Declan Keogh / Emergency Times

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre in the south was informed of a presumptive case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Northern Ireland.

Public Health authorities have activated contact tracing protocols.  

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said: “Giving the evolving situation this first case of COVID-19 disease was not unexpected. The National Public Health Emergency Team has been planning for this scenario since January. The general public should continue to adhere to the public health protocols issued by the Department of Health.”

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer in the Dept of Health, said: “The HSE is well-prepared and is working to inform any contacts the patient had in order to prevent transmission.”

“COVID-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person’s body fluids (e.g. droplets from coughing or sneezing), or by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.

“Close contact involves either face to face contact or spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person. The risk of transmission through casual contact is low.”

Public Health protocols, similar to those used to respond to previous incidents of pandemic influenza, SARS and MERS, have been in place since January and are operating effectively.
The general public are advised to follow advice from the HSE and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre to protect their health.

Any person concerned that they may have symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) should immediately isolate themselves from others and phone their GP.

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