Sinn Fein leader says she has the coronavirus but is recovering

FILE PHOTO: Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald speaks at a public meeting Liberty Hall in Dublin, Ireland February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The leader of the left-wing Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald, said on Tuesday that a test taken at the end of March confirmed she had the coronavirus, but she was no longer infected and would return to work next week.

McDonald said she was given the result on Monday after "weeks of being very unwell". The test was taken on March 28.

McDonald's party stunned Ireland's establishment in February by winning the most votes in an inconclusive national election. The two centrist parties that have alternated in power throughout Ireland's history both refuse to work with Sinn Fein and are working on a plan for a coalition to govern together.

"Yesterday afternoon, I received a positive diagnosis for Covid-19 having been tested on Saturday, 28th March," McDonald said in a statement.

"The Public Health Doctor informs me that I am no longer infected or infectious, and this is a great relief after weeks of being very unwell."

"I had a setback in my recovery at the weekend and developed post-viral pleurisy in my right lung. I am on medication and responding very well, and I fully expect to be back at work next Monday," she added.

Sinn Fein operates in both British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, where its influence was limited for decades by its history of alliance to IRA militants who waged a violent campaign against Britain in the north.

Caretaker Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael and its historic rivals Fianna Fail steadfastly refuse to govern with Sinn Fein, and are trying to put together a deal to govern together for the first time, with the support of independent lawmakers or a small party.

(Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Peter Graff)

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