Four new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Ireland bringing the total number on the island to nine.
Two males and two females from the west of Ireland were confirmed as having tested positive for the virus last night.
They are being treated at a hospital in the west of Ireland. The patients are all associated with travel from the same affected area in northern Italy.
Contact tracing is now underway for the four new cases.
Deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health Dr Ronan Glynn said that, despite the confirmation of four new cases of the virus, there is “still no evidence of widespread or sustained community transmission in Ireland, as seen in some other EU countries”.
“While we now have six confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, we continue our containment efforts, central to which is that the public know what to do in the event they have symptoms,” he said.
Earlier yesterday, two new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Northern Ireland brining the total number of positive cases there to three.
One of the people involved recently returned to Northern Ireland from northern Italy, while the other had recent contact with a person elsewhere in the UK who has subsequently tested positive. The results are being sent to England for verification.
At a briefing yesterday, Dr Holohan said there is no indication that the two cases in Northern Ireland had travelled through this jurisdiction.
“The contact tracing process has only begun. We have not been alerted to any cross-border aspect in terms of that contact tracing.
“It is still quite early in the contact tracing process so it is still possible, but there are no indications as of yet,” he said.
Dr Holohan also reiterated the position of the National Public Health Emergency Team that there is currently no reason to cancel the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.
“As things stand and on the basis of our assessment, we see no implications for the St Patrick’s Day parade,” he said.
The chief medical officer also said it is understandable that its emergence may give rise to anxiety and fear among the general public but said these factors can also give rise to harmful stereotypes.
“This virus knows no borders, or race. Restricting travel into Ireland does not form a component of our current response. We must continue to focus on ensuring that everyone is informed, and knows what to do in the event they develop symptoms. It is essential that any decisions regarding responses to Covid-19 are proportionate, necessary and based on specific public health advice. No other response is appropriate,” he said.
In a letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Patricia King said workers impacted by the virus should not suffer in terms of loss of income.
She said where employees are not covered under a contract of employment or by an agreed attendance policy, there is no statutory entitlement to be paid by their employer — even following HSE advice.
“Put bluntly, some workers, through no fault of their own, may simply be unable to afford to self- isolate. Considering the imperative to ensure that virus containment efforts succeed, it is essential that workers do not experience income interruptions arising from Covid-19.”
“We believe that it is of the utmost importance, therefore, to uphold the net incomes of all affected workers, whether through the social welfare system or through temporary payments,” said Ms King in the letter.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said it was still too early to say what effect the spread of the virus will have on the economy.
“The spread of the virus is already having an effect on global growth. International analysts believe 0.5% of growth has been lost. That will have an effect on the Irish economy, but at this point, it is too early to calibrate what that effect will be.”
“We have an economy that is performing at a high level of momentum at the moment and if there is an effect, we have an economy which is growing at a high rate and I believe it will be able to deal with many of the effects of the virus,” he said.