A spokesperson for the Irish Defence Forces has said all Irish troops in Lebanon are "safe and well" after 90 UN peacekeepers in the area tested positive for Covid-19.

A spokesman for the UNIFIL force said today that 90 UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contracted the coronavirus, their first reported cases of the illness. 

The confirmed cases were transferred to a special UNIFIL facility equipped to deal with Covid-19 cases, UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said in a statement.

He said 88 of those infected belonged to the same contingent, but he did not specify the nationalities of the 90 peacekeepers.

Some 45 countries contribute peacekeepers to UNIFIL, which was set up in 1978 to patrol the border between Lebanon and Israel which are technically at war.

A spokesperson for the Irish Defence Forces said all Irish troops in Lebanon were "safe and well" and had not been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Approximately 350 Irish troops are currently in the area and are not due to rotate home until mid November.

The spokesperson said all local health protection guidelines were being followed by troops who are also adhering to guidance from the HSE and UNIFIL.

In August, the UN extended the peace mission's mandate by one year but reduced the force's troop capacity from 15,000 to 13,000.

Mr Tenenti said that UNIFIL's operations along the Lebanon-Israel border are not affected by the new virus cases.

"We have undertaken robust contact tracing, and applied a thorough regime of testing and isolation" to prevent a larger outbreak," Mr Teneti said.

Lebanon has seen a spike in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases since an explosion ripped through the Beirut port on 4 August, killing more than 190 people and ravaging swathes of the capital.

The small Mediterranean country has recorded a total of 23,669 Covid-19 cases, including 239 deaths since an outbreak began in February.

Yesterday, authorities announced 22 coronavirus cases at the Roumieh prison, the country's largest detention centre which is infamous for the poor conditions in some of its blocks, including overcrowding and harsh treatment.