- Additional reporting by Eoin English
Minister for Health Simon Harris said that the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus must be stopped.
Mr Harris was speaking in Brussels at an emergency meeting with other European health ministers.
Enroute to Brussels to meet @EU_Health Commissioner @SKyriakidesEU & European Health Ministers on the #coronavirus #Covid19. It is so important the EU works together on this global challenge. Thank you to all health care staff & public health experts leading our response here— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 6, 2020
There, they discussed the effect of the coronavirus on health services and listened to reports from the World Health Organisation, the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Control.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Harris said: "Public communications is an important focus in our response. Europe must act together to stop the spread of misinformation about this virus."
"Those who spread such lies are increasing the stigma attached to this virus. They are endangering lives and they are stopping us from doing our jobs. Our public health doctors should lead our response to this matter."
Met with EU Health Commissioner @SKyriakidesEU & EU Internal Markets Commissioner @ThierryBreton this morning at EU Health Ministers Meeting where we are discussing the European response to #Covid19 #coronavirus. So important we work together on what is a global challenge pic.twitter.com/qUIijiTXQW— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 6, 2020
Minister Harris said that "Ireland remains in the containment phase," and said that "while countries are in different situations, it is vital we work together."
"It is clear this virus is going to have an impact for a prolonged period of time. It is essential we plan ahead, protect our healthcare workers and do our best to provide accurate, evidence based and timely information to our people."
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said mass public gatherings such as St Patrick’s Day parades will not be cancelled amid the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking following a stakeholder meeting with health officials on Friday, he said: “We are not recommending at this stage that any major events be cancelled but this of course will be kept under review.”
Last night the number of coronavirus cases in Ireland increased dramatically including a community transmission for the first time.
The case involves Cork University Hospital and the HSE has set up a dedicated team to trace everyone who came into contact with the patient.
Up to 60 healthcare workers at Cork University Hospital (CUH) have been asked to self-isolate, visitor restrictions have been introduced at two major hospitals and all nursing homes nationwide have banned visitors.