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First case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland identified

The adult patient had been in Italy and travelled north from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said.

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The first presumed case of coronavirus has been identified in Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride said (Liam McBurney/PA)

The first presumed case of coronavirus has been identified in Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride said (Liam McBurney/PA)

The first presumed case of coronavirus has been identified in Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride said (Liam McBurney/PA)

The first case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland has been identified.

The adult patient had been in Italy and travelled north from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said.

The positive result has been sent to Public Health England laboratories for verification.

The individual acted appropriately in reporting concerns to the health authorities but those most at risk who were in close proximity are being traced and checked, Dr McBride added.

The senior official said: “The risk to the rest of the population is low.”

Royal Victoria Hospital – Belfast
The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast (Paul Faith/PA)

A special unit has been established at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for isolating those suffering from the virus but the health authorities were unable to confirm where the individual is being treated.

Dr McBride added: “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.

“We have robust infection control measures in place which enable us to respond immediately.

“Our health service is used to managing infections and would assure the public that we are prepared.

“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.”

The Health Minister in the Republic of Ireland Simon Harris has said the first case of Covid-19 confirmed in Northern Ireland was “not unexpected”.

“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 Department of Health, said: “The Health Service Executive is well-prepared and is working to inform any contacts the patient had in order to prevent transmission.”

PA