ANOTHER case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the east of the country, taking the total in Ireland to 19.
The patient had travelled to northern Italy.
There are still four confirmed cases in the south, including the man, aged in his 40s, who had been in Cork University Hospital for up to a week before he was diagnosed.
This case remains the only unexplained case in Ireland, with health professionals unable to determine how he caught the infection.
It raises the spectre of the virus spreading through the community and there are ongoing concerns about healthcare workers being infected.
Sixty staff at CUH are self-isolating for two weeks because of concerns they came into contact with the man.
The National Public Health Emergency Team met today to examine how best to treat healthcare workers who are in close contact with confirmed cases.
Dr Cillian de Gascun, chair of the advisory group, said there was “a risk to patients of acquiring Covid-19 from an exposed health care worker”.
If a hospital cannot be staffed safely, those who have had close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 and have developed symptoms should be sent home, the advisory group said.
Staff who have not developed symptoms, and are deemed essential workers, may continue to work but must follow strict conditions, undergoing active monitoring twice daily for 14 days after contact with a confirmed case.
A LARGE number of people who came into contact with Cork's first coronavirus patient are being traced by health experts.
There are around 60 health professionals in Ireland who specialise in contact tracing but other health service staff are being drafted in to assist the process due to the increasing volume of work across the country.
The need to trace contacts of patients spiked after it emerged Cork's first case had been in hospital for up to a week before his diagnosis was made.
A further five cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland on Friday night, including three new cases in the south.
A healthcare worker in this region is among the new cases confirmed. A male and female in the south have also been diagnosed.
It's believed there are cases linked to previously confirmed cases in Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Limerick.
A male in the east and a female in the west, connected to travel abroad or already diagnosed patients, have also been confirmed to have the virus.
It brings the total in Ireland to 18.
Sixty staff at CUH were told to go home and self-isolate for two weeks after the first confirmed case in Cork on Thursday night. All outpatient procedures have also been cancelled.
This first case centres around a man in his 40s who had been in CUH for up to a week and may have had contact with large numbers of staff and sick patients, before he was tested.
He was the first case of 'community transmission' as he had not been abroad, or visited any affected areas.
It is still not known how the man became infected but he had underlying health problems and his condition is thought to be serious.
The circumstances of the diagnosis sparked fears that staff and other patients could be infected.
It's understood that hundreds of people are being traced and told to self-isolate.
The Department of Health has declined to say if the healthcare worker is based in Cork University Hospital.
They've also declined to give details on the condition of the patients.
Over the coming days and weeks, it is planned that patients with mild coronavirus symptoms will recover in isolation in the community, rather than in hospital, where all cases are being treated at present.
Internationally, four out of every five people who get the disease suffer mild symptoms.
Meanwhile, a fourth case has also been confirmed in Northern Ireland.
ALL hospitals in Cork have now implemented strict visitor restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement tonight, the HSE said the restrictions have been introduced with immediate effect across the South/ South West Hospital Group.
The hospitals are: Cork University Hospital; Cork University Maternity Hospital; University Hospital Kerry;
University Hospital Waterford; South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital Mercy University Hospital Bantry General Hospital; Mallow General Hospital.
In a statement, the HSE said: "This is in the interest of patient care and in order to prevent the spread of infection. Anyone with any queries about visiting times or visiting a particular hospital should ring the respective hospital directly.
"We regret any inconvenience caused to patients and relatives by these necessary measures. All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made by each hospital 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/Out of Hours service in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to presenting to Emergency Departments if their needs are not urgent.