Coronavirus reaches Ireland; patient believed to have travelled through Dublin Airport 

Coronavirus reaches Ireland; patient believed to have travelled through Dublin Airport 
A woman on a stretcher is carried out of an ambulance into a tent set up by the Italian Civil Protection next to the emergency ward of the Piacenza hospital, northern Italy, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.

The first presumed case of coronavirus has been diagnosed on the island of Ireland, with a case reported in the North this evening

Northern Ireland's Public Health Agency announced the case at a briefing in Belfast and said it was "working rapidly" to identify anyone the patient came into contact with to prevent a further spread.

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.

Meanwhile one of two new cases in England - a parent at a Buxton primary school in Derbyshire - contracted the virus in Tenerife, where holiday makers from a number of countries, including Ireland, are being kept in a hotel on the south west of the island.

Another contracted the virus in Italy, which has become the worst affected country in Europe with more than 400 cases and 14 deaths.

Globally, Denmark was among those countries confirming their first cases on Thursday, while Saudi Arabia has stopped Muslim pilgrims entering to worship at the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

In Japan, all schools will close for several weeks, while US experts have reported the first case of unknown origin, which suggests the virus is spreading there.

In China, where the virus originated, 78,497 cases have been reported, including 2,744 deaths.

After Brazil confirmed Latin America's first case on Wednesday, the virus has reached every continent except Antarctica.

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, told a press conference in Geneva on Thursday that coronavirus has the potential to become a global pandemic but this stage had not been reached.

Public health advice remains to wash hands with soap, not rub the face and maintain a distance from people who are coughing and sneezing, he said.

Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said the idea that the virus is mostly being transmitted by people without symptoms is a "myth".

He added: "Data from China does not suggest that asymptomatic people are becoming the driving force behind this."

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