A patient diagnosed with coronavirus at Cork University Hospital is the first in the country to catch the virus through community transmission.
There have been seven new cases diagnosed in Ireland today: one in Cork, four in the east of the country and two in the west.
The Cork patient had not travelled to Italy and the origin of the infection is unknown. It has become the first case of what health experts had feared, community transmission.
The cases in the east are associated with travel to Italy while the two in the west had close contact with other confirmed cases. There are now 13 cases in the Republic of Ireland.
Signs outside the Cork University Hospital today declared 'Infection Outbreak: No visitors Allowed'.
All outpatient appointments have been cancelled at CUH tomorrow.
The male patient attended the hospital in recent days and displayed with symptoms of the virus, which has killed thousands worldwide.
Tests returned positive for Covid-19 and an emergency meeting was held at the hospital today.
Sources have suggested that the case concerns a man in his 40s who hasn't been abroad.
The case is the seventh confirmed case of Covid-19 across Ireland with four confirmed in the west of the country and two in the east.
Three further cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland.
Speaking about the coronavirus situation in Ireland this afternoon, HSE head Paul Reid said that Ireland remains in a containment phase.
He warned, however, that it would be a challenge to maintain this containment, and that the HSE was preparing for further phases.
Mr Reid added that the public should take this outbreak very seriously.
Meanwhile, the Mater Private in Cork confirmed today that as a precautionary measure it is restricting access to its facility to patients only.
A statement on social media said “as a precautionary measure, we are advised by our experts that in the interest of patient safety we are currently restricting access to the hospital’s facilities to patients only.”
The hospital confirmed that as a precautionary measure it had also been advised to cancel all non-essential meetings at the Cork facility.
The Mater Private Cork is the only Mater hospital in Ireland with the restrictions in place.
A spokesperson said there have been no confirmed or suspected cases at the Mater.
A statement from CUH confirmed that strict visitor restrictions have been introduced.
"This is in the interest of patient care and in order to prevent the spread of infections within the hospital. We regret any inconvenience caused to patients and relatives by these necessary measures, which are being taken in the interests of patient care.
"All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of infection.
"Management at the South/South West Hospital Group have requested that where appropriate the public contact their GP/Southdoc in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to presenting to Emergency Departments in the city if their needs are not urgent."
:: Anyone with any queries about visiting times or visiting a particular ward should ring the hospital on 021 4922000.