At least eight Irish soldiers serving in Kosovo have tested positive for coronavirus following an outbreak among peacekeeping troops on the NATO-led mission.
The number represents two-thirds of the Irish contingent currently serving with the Kosovo Force (KFOR).
It is understood that 18 German troops have also contracted the virus.
KFOR has been delivering medical equipment to hospitals and contributing to the local response to Covid-19 in Kosovo since the beginning of the pandemic.
A spokesman for the Irish Defence Forces said that all affected personnel are following Covid-19 mission guidelines, and “close liaison” is taking place between the mission and the organisation at home.
It is understood that three Irish troops tested positive for coronavirus in the middle of last week, but this number had more than doubled by Friday.
They are currently being treated by Italian doctors.
According to the Defence Forces website, Ireland maintains a troop presence of 12 at KFOR headquarters in Film City, Pristina.
They are among 3,500 military and civilian personnel attached to the mission.
“While Óglaigh na hÉireann (the Irish Defence Forces) does not comment on the specifics of individual cases, we can confirm the presence of Covid-19 among Irish personnel with KFOR,” said the spokesman.
“The health and welfare of our personnel is a priority… and close liaison is taking place between the mission area and the organisation at home.” The Irish company’s area of responsibility in Kosovo covers 190 square kilometres, within which it conducts regular patrols in Mowag armoured personnel carriers.
Last month, Irish soldiers were involved in a KFOR mission to deliver temporary shelters to Covid-19 testing facilities in Gracanica and Laplje Selo in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN development coordinator in Kosovo.