A CORK man who died after 27 days on a ventilator was the first confirmed community transmission coronavirus case in Ireland.
The first confirmed Irish case of the coronavirus was on Saturday, 29 February, but medics now say that a 43-year-old man in Cork was hospitalised with the virus days before that.
Doctors at Cork University Hospital have written in the Irish Medical Journal that the man is the first confirmed example of community transmission of the disease in the Republic, as he had no known contact with a confirmed case and had not travelled to any affected areas.
He was tested 'outside the national guidance', and the positive result led to multiple close contacts self-isolating, which doctors say saved countless lives and changed the country's approach to the virus as a result.
Author of the report, CUH doctor Dr Corinna Sadlier told Morning Ireland that the man first presented with a headache before developing severe respiratory symptoms.
He was treated for a chest infection but his condition worsened, and he was transferred to ICU where he sadly passed away after 27 days on a ventilator.
According to Dr Sadlier, genetic analysis confirmed that a virus strain in his bloodwork showed "very little difference" from the original Covid-19 strain in Wuhan, China, but did not have any of the mutations found in Bavaria or Lombardy, where the disease was prevalent at the time.
At the time, just six "imported" cases of the virus had been confirmed in Ireland, from people who had travelled to affected areas, but the Cork man's diagnosis "resulted in immediate changes to the [coronavirus] testing algorithm, with further community cases identified at a short interval", according to the Irish Medical Journal article.
"This informed the national response to SARS-CoC-2 which has suppressed the curve and saved countless lives nationally."