DUBLIN (Reuters) – Health authorities in Ireland on Saturday confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus and said it was associated with travel from an affected area in northern Italy.

The patient, a man in the eastern part of the country, is receiving appropriate medical care, Ireland’s health department said in a statement.

The British region of Northern Ireland, which shares an open border with the Irish republic, confirmed its first and so far only case of the virus on Thursday.

“This is not unexpected. We have been preparing for this eventuality for many weeks now. The health service has robust response measures in place,” said Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the department of health.

Health authorities are working rapidly to identify any contacts the patient may have had, officials said.

The Northern Irish patient who contracted the virus, the first confirmed case on the island, had traveled from Italy via Dublin Airport before returning to Belfast.

The number of people infected with coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose to 23 on Saturday, after three more patients tested positive, Britain’s health department said.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)