A case of coronavirus has been detected for the first time in a patient in the Republic of Ireland who had not travelled overseas.
Independent.ie understands a person in Cork has contracted the virus - but unlike other Irish cases they have not been to northern Italy in recent weeks.
It is also believed the person was not in contact with any of the existing known cases. This raises the spectre of community spread of the virus.
One health source indicated the latest case may indicate that the virus has been undetected within the community in Ireland for some time before the first case was confirmed.
Cork University Hospital (CUH) has now displayed 'infection outbreak' signs and warned that visitors are not allowed within specific sections of the hospital.
It is understood the detection involves a Corkman.
He was being treated for a separate and unrelated health condition on a busy ward in CUH.
All those who were in close proximity to the patient in CUH will now have to be traced and tested.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) said the restrictions at CUH were in accordance with infection control protocols.
"This is in the interest of patient care and in order to prevent infections within the hospital."
However, the CUH emergency department remains open and routine ward operations are continuing as normal.
Critical care beds in the NHS could come under intense pressure during a coronavirus epidemic, England’s Chief Medical Officer has warned, as he told MPs the UK has now mainly moved into the “delay phase” of tackling the virus.