Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said a confirmed case of coronavirus is anticipated at some stage in the country as efforts are stepped up to contain the spread of the outbreak.
Family doctors are to be sent packs of protective masks and other equipment over the coming days as part of a continuing “containment strategy” overseen by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO has warned the world is running out of masks and other equipment amid a surge in demand from efforts to curb the spread of the virus, which has so far resulted in 637 deaths.
But Dr Holohan said Ireland has “substantial supplies” at the moment, which are being distributed to GPs.
“We are still optimistic, and so is the global community, that the containment measures - particularly those put in place by the Chinese - and now the arrangements that are in place in Ireland and every other country around the world to limit the spread of this, that they may be successful in containing this virus completely,” he told RTÉ’s News at One.
“Now, we don’t know for sure whether that will be the case and it is only in a situation where not just one case - and we won’t be surprised if we get a case here, we are anticipating that - it would be if we got a significant number of cases that we would switch to a mitigation strategy.”
This happened during the Swine flu pandemic, he pointed out.
At a point where the numbers of cases rose significantly, the focus would have to switch from picking up every case - under a containment strategy - to a mitigation strategy that works on ensuring help is there for those mostly severely affected.
Up to Monday this week, there were 15 tests carried out on suspected coronavirus cases in Ireland, but none have proved positive.