DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s Health Ministry confirmed its first death of a patient diagnosed with the coronavirus on Wednesday as the number of confirmed cases of the virus rose to 43 from 34 a day earlier.
The patient who died was a female from the east of the country with an underlying medical condition, the ministry said.
The Irish Times newspaper reported that the patient was an elderly woman who initially presented at a hospital with respiratory symptoms and was diagnosed with the disease when staff performed a test.
“We’ll be trying to enhance and step up our containment phase,” Ireland’s chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, told a news conference, adding that contact tracing would substantially increase and healthcare workers told to raise their levels of suspicion for the virus.
Two more cases were identified on Wednesday in Northern Ireland, the British region which shares an open border with the Irish republic, bringing the total there to 18, Northern Ireland’s health department said.
The head of Ireland’s Health Service Executive, Paul Reid, also said on Wednesday that the country was entering a new phase in the spread of coronavirus and that he fully supported some hospitals that had decided to restrict visitors.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by John Stonestreet and Alison Williams)