Kildare man in quarantine hoping to get all-clear from coronavirus

Kildare man in quarantine hoping to get all-clear from coronavirus

An Irish man is hoping to get the all-clear to leave a British hospital where he has been under quarantine for almost two weeks.

Ben Kavanagh, a teacher from Kildare, was among a large group of people who were airlifted from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

He then joined 83 Irish and British nationals who were taken from the RAF base at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to the Arrowe Park Hospital in Birkenhead near Liverpool.

While in quarantine he has been conducting online classes for his Chinese pupils by pre-recording lessons for them.

Mr Kavanagh, who was speaking on RTÉ Radio, is hoping to leave quarantine today and then return home to Kildare “safe and sound".

He plans to return to China eventually but will have to see how things go.

“I am not ruling out a return to China. Not at all. I am definitely going back,” he said.

Mr Kavanagh said everyone at the centre was still asymptomatic.

“If it stays that way we will get out on Thursday,” he said.

He also dismissed reports that someone tried to escape from quarantine as “complete and utter nonsense".

Mr Kavanagh also said that with each passing day it seemed that leaving Wuhan was a good option.

Meanwhile, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, said a case of coronavirus, or a small number of cases, was not going to present a substantial challenge to the country's hospitals.

“We will be in a position to respond. We think Ireland is at least as well prepared if not better than most countries throughout Europe,” he said.

Dr Holohan said the 65 suspected cases who had tested negative for the virus came from mainland China and would have had symptoms.

PA Graphic
PA Graphic

Testing was quick, he said. There was a same-day result if the sample arrived in the National Virus Reference Laboratory before 10am.

“Our plans at the moment are about maximising the chance of us picking up a case should one occur and putting in place arrangements to stop that case from being transmitted to other people,” said Dr Holohan.

He advised those who may have symptoms of the virus, now called Covid-19, to phone their local health department. "The people there know what needs to happen," he said.

When there is a suspected case it is managed in a hospital environment, not because the person is sick but because it is the best environment to manage containment; to prevent transmission and to protect other people.

Dr Holohan said the HSE has engaged with professional bodies like the Irish College of General Practitioners to help get the message out to GPs.

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