HSE to contact anyone who sat within two rows of North’s first coronavirus patient on plane

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Update: The HSE will be contacting people who sat within two rows of the individual on the plane from northern Italy to Dublin who has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

It said: “Tonight, the agency will be making direct contact if they have identified the contacts who sat within two rows of the individual concerned. That is close contact within the context of a plane. They will make contact with them and give them advice as to what they should do.”

The HSE’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the case is “not a surprise”.

He told RTE news the individual who was infected came forward and followed the instructions given by health authorities.

Dr Holohan added: “This shows guidelines are working. The individual involved did the right thing.”

Earlier: North reports first case of coronavirus; patient travelled via Dublin

The first case of coronavirus has been diagnosed in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency (PHA) held a media briefing in Belfast to give an update on coronavirus.

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

Dr Michael McBride, chief medical officer for Northern Ireland, said the person is thought to have travelled from northern Italy via Dublin.

Dr McBride said: “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.”

They are also trying to work out who else the patient came into contact with in order to stop the spread of the Covid-19.

Dr 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.”

Asked whether the person is from Northern Ireland, Dr McBride said: “I think the most important thing here is that we respect patient confidentiality so I’m not going to disclose any personal details about this individual. It would be inappropriate for me to do so. It would be wrong for me to do so.”

He added that he would not confirm where the individual is being held.

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said: “Given 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.”

    Coronavirus symptoms may include:

  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties
  • fever (high temperature)
  • Things you can do to protect yourself from getting Covid-19 (Coronavirus) include:
  • wash your hand properly and regularly
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze
  • Wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub:
  • after coughing and sneezing
  • after toilet use
  • before eating
  • before and after preparing food



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