28/02/2020

Coronavirus Arrives In Northern Ireland

A case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Northern Ireland.

Health officials are working rapidly to establish any contacts the patient, who is thought to be a woman, may have had.

It's reported she flew into Dublin with a child before travelling to Belfast. Tests are underway to determine whether the child has also contracted the virus.

The patient is receiving specialist care and her sample was sent to Public Health England labs for confirmation.

It's hoped identifying any potential contacts she has had will limit the spread of the disease.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: "I want to reassure the public that we have robust infection prevention control in place.

"We have been planning and preparing for this."

Dr McBride announced the first presumptive positive result for Covid-19 on Thursday evening, 27 February.

The health chief said prevention control advice remains the same. Anyone who has travelled to an infected region and is displaying symptoms is urged to self-isolate and contact their GP by telephone.

The main signs of infection are fever, coughs and shortness of breath or breathing difficulties.

Affected regions include mainland China, where the disease originated, as well as Thailand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau.

Meanwhile, the public are being advised to follow standard hygiene procedures for the common flu- catch it, bin it, kill it.

Dr McBride added: "Always carry tissues to catch your cough or sneeze, dispose of the tissue as soon as possible after using it, and clean your hands as soon as you can as germs can spread to every surface you touch."

Dr Adrian Mairs, Acting Director of Public Health at the Public Health Agency (PHA), added: "Northern Ireland has well-prepared and rigorously-tested plans for dealing with infectious diseases, and these have been activated. This will help ensure that the patient receives appropriate care, and the likelihood of spread is minimised. I would like to reassure the public that the risk to the wider population remains low."



(JG/CM)

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