02/03/2020

Coronavirus Latest: Ministers Hold Cross-Border Talks

Cross-border cooperation regarding measures to limit the spread of coronavirus are ongoing, the Health Minister has said.

A total of two cases have been confirmed on the island of Ireland, one on each side of the border.

The Public Health Agency said laboratory tests had found a positive result for Covid-19 last week when testing a woman who had travelled from northern Italy.

The second case was a male student at a Dublin secondary school which has since been closed for infection-prevention for 14 days.

Officials have called for patient confidentiality to be respected for the infected individuals as they receive specialist treatment.

It's understood both cases are related to recent travel in Italy and are not connected to each other.

Health Minister Robin Swann said local officials are liaising closely with colleagues in the Republic of Ireland.

He was joined by the First and deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill when speaking to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Ireland's Health Minister Simon Harris by phone on Sunday.

"We underlined our commitment to continued cooperation between respective Departments and public health organisations on both sides of the border," Minister Swann said. "I also spoke with Minister Harris again this evening.

"Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride has been briefed by the Chief Medical Officer in the Republic of Ireland, Dr Tony Holohan, on the confirmed case announced tonight.
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"Positive test results had been anticipated on both sides of the border and we have repeatedly made clear it was a question of when not if. I have full confidence in the expertise and commitment of our public health professionals and pay tribute to everyone working hard to contain the spread of this virus and keep us well."

A total of 93 tests have been carried out in Northern Ireland for the virus following its origination in China. All but one were returned as negative.

Elsewhere, worldwide totals have almost reach 90,000 with over 3,000 people dying from the disease.

Anyone who has travelled outside of the UK in recent weeks faces a potentially heightened risk of contracting Covid-19.

Those who have travelled to high risk areas are said to be at a "higher risk" and are now asked to self-isolate even if they aren't experiencing symptoms.

Areas of risk are China, Thailand, Japan, Rep of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Northern Italy, Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel, Tenerife.

Affected individuals should contact their doctor, emergency department or out-of-hours GP by phone and are urged not to attend a surgery or hospital without prior arrangement.

Northern Ireland now has full access to the NHS 111 helpline service on coronavirus. Callers should press 1 when they are advised.

This service is provided in Northern Ireland solely for coronavirus guidance and not for other conditions.



(JG/CM)

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