Medics have reported what they believe to be the first case of Covid-19 reinfection in the State.

In a paper published in the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), the medics explain that a female healthcare worker (40) contracted Covid-19 seven months after originally falling ill with the disease last year.

Dr Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory at University College Dublin, is one of the co-authors of the paper, which states that “to our knowledge, this is the first report of re-infection from Ireland”.

The paper says the health worker presented with fever, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath and dysgeusia in April of last year and was diagnosed with Covid-19.

“While never hospitalised, she was unfit for work for four weeks due to significant headaches and persistent fatigue lasting four months,” it states.

The paper says that one of the woman’s two household contacts also developed Covid-19 at that time.

It goes on to say that the healthcare worker presented with a cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue and myalgia again last November. She was again diagnosed with Covid-19, this time using whole genome sequencing.

The paper states that the woman’s symptoms were milder and a faster recovery took place second time around. She remained off work for the two week period of self-isolation and reports a post-infection wheeze which is being controlled with low dose inhaler.

The paper, entitled ‘Genomic Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Reinfection in Ireland’, also had an input from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre and from Dr Sinéad O’Donnell of the Department of of Clinical Microbiology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Significant consequencesThe authors state that the consequences of Covid-19 re-infection “are significant in healthcare workers due to the impact on service delivery and cross infection in other health care workers and patients”.

They state that “the incidence of Covid-19 reinfection is not well characterised” and that “infection control precautions may still be required in healthcare facilities while SARS-CoV-2 remains in circulation”.

The paper states that vaccines have shown efficacy rates of 70 per cent to 95 per cent in clinical trials, however, the effectiveness in populations and the durability of immunity is yet to be evaluated.

The authors add that “further study into the level and duration of immunity conferred by both infection with and vaccination against SARS-Cov-2 (Covid-19) is required to inform future vaccination campaigns and infection prevention and control policy”.