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28th Feb 2020

People who were in close contact with Belfast Coronavirus patient have been contacted

Anna Daly

The patient flew from Italy to Dublin.

The people who were in close contact with Northern Ireland’s first confirmed Coronavirus patient have been identified and contacted.

The patient is a Belfast woman who recently flew from Italy to Dublin and is believed to have travelled back to Belfast by train, however this has not been confirmed.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said [via the Belfast Telegraph] that the person had tested positive for the virus. The first test was a “presumptive positive test”, a second test is being done in England for additional confirmation.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

As soon as the news broke, efforts were made to identify all people that the patient had been in close contact with. They have now been contacted and the Dublin-Belfast train that the patient is thought to have taken has been sanitised as a “precautionary measure”.

Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said [via the Irish Times]:

“We’ve had no confirmation at this time that the person travelled by Enterprise, but both Iarnród Éireann and Translink undertook a sanitising clean of the Enterprise fleet as a “precautionary measure.”

He encouraged customers and staff to “follow the guidance of the HSE at all times.”

Dr Michael McBride said that members of the public who have visited the affected regions and who may have symptoms are advised to self-isolate at home, and to get in contact with their GP.

You can find the HSE’s guidelines about coronavirus here.