Protective equipment to be issued to GPs as part of HSE coronavirus preparation

Protective equipment to be issued to GPs as part of HSE coronavirus preparation

Personal protective equipment packs will be issued to GPs and health centres as part of coronavirus preparation measures being taken by the HSE.

It will take between a week to 10 days for the health authority to distribute the packs to around 4,500 different sites.

HSE assistant national director of public health and child health Kevin Kelleher said the health authority would start distributing the packs on Friday.

“They are the appropriate personal protective equipment required by the clinician in the community if they have a patient come in to see them,” he said.

“It is basically a gown, gloves, mask and goggles,” said Dr Kelleher during a media briefing.

“It is for the GP or relevant person to use if they get contacted by somebody who comes in to see them in the surgery.”

Chair of the Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group and director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian De Gascun said test results were available about eight hours after the sample arrived in the laboratory.

Director of the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre Dr John Cuddihy said there was no confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Ireland.

Dr Kelleher said they are able to confirm within 24 to 36 hours whether or not someone had the disease.

He also said the health authority had been very careful in how they described the disease.

It was not “a Chinese disease” and it was very inappropriate for some people to describe it in a way to discriminate against people.

He warned that it could cause people who have caught the virus not to come forward.

Asked was it inevitable that there would be cases in Ireland, Dr Kelleher said the World Health Organisation was hoping to contain the virus within China.

Countries outside of China were making sure there was no “sustained transmission” of the virus.

“All the evidence is that outside of China, particularly at the moment, there is no such sustained transmission,” said Dr Kelleher.

He said people who have returned from China and who have symptoms should get in touch with their doctor by phone as a first step.

Dr Kelleher said the clinicians would get in touch with his colleagues in public health and they would decide what needed to happen next.

“We are able to say that as of lunchtime today there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland.”

Asked about the two suspected cases in Cork and Kerry, Dr Kelleher, said they did not talk about individuals.

When asked if there were adequate isolation facilities in the country's acute hospitals, Dr Kelleher said they had been working "very hard" to ensure that they were prepared to isolate patients with the disease.

Meanwhile, there have been 75 deaths from flu and 3,242 people hospitalised with the virus.

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