Only a matter of time before coronavirus reaches Ireland, doctor says

Only a matter of time before coronavirus reaches Ireland, doctor says

Additional reporting by Daniel McConnell

The former head of the Irish Medical Organisation believes it is only a matter of time before a case of coronavirus is found in Ireland.

Two Irish citizens who were on-board a cruise ship in Japan have the virus while four others remain in quarantine there.

Meanwhile, nine Irish citizens were on board a ship quarantined off the coast of Cambodia, two of whom are now back in Ireland.

More than 72,000 cases of the coronavirus have been found so far, with almost 1,900 deaths.

Dr Martin Daly says it's "likely" we'll see the first case here at some point.

"I think on the balance of probability, if this has spread to 26 countries the likelihood in this international age of travel and interconnectivity that we will get cases," said Dr Daly.

Now, it is difficult, I don't think anyone can predict when this will happen but I don't think we should be operating on the basis that it won't happen.

Health Minister Simon Harris briefed the Cabinet on the virus yesterday where he said the State remains vigilant.

He said the National Public Health Emergency Team held its first meeting in relation to Covid-19 on Monday 27 January.

Meetings are being held on a weekly basis and associated bodies are continuing to meet on a regular basis.

Furthermore, the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre is closely monitoring the emerging situation and is collaborating with the Department, other Departments and various Agencies in relation to preparedness measures.

The HSE’s National Crisis Management Team, chaired by the HSE’s Chief Executive Officer, and High Consequence Infectious Disease Group are also meeting regularly.

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