Coronavirus alerts to ramp up at ports and schools

The National Public Health Emergency Team is to immediately ramp up warning campaigns about the spread of coronavirus at ports, airports, schools, and public offices.

Coronavirus alerts to ramp up at ports and schools

The National Public Health Emergency Team is to immediately ramp up warning campaigns about the spread of coronavirus at ports, airports, schools, and public offices.

The team said that, to date, 90 suspected cases had been tested in Ireland, but none were confirmed with the virus.

It said the country’s containment strategy is to transition to the isolation of suspected virus-carriers in community settings.

Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said that, having assessed recent developments in Europe and globally, Ireland remains in a containment phase.

“However, based on European Centre for Disease Control guidelines, the cancellation of mass gatherings in this phase is justified in exceptional circumstances,” he said.

Dr Holohan said the recommendation to cancel the Ireland v Italy rugby match is based on the rapidly evolving nature of the outbreak in northern Italy and the consequent risk of importation of cases into Ireland, were the match to go ahead.

“Additionally, National Public Health Emergency Team has established a subgroup to develop criteria for the risk assessment of other mass gatherings,” he said.

“These criteria will be based on guidance from the European Centre for Disease Control and WHO.”

The emergency team has identified a new case definition to include Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran, and four regions in northern Italy — Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Piedmont — alongside mainland China.

Anyone who has been to these regions in the last 14 days and is experiencing symptoms should self-isolate and call their GP by telephone.

Anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days and is experiencing symptoms should immediately self- isolate and call their GP.

Dr Holohan said GPs are equipped to assess each case making contact with the service and may progress the case to testing, if they deem it necessary, following risk assessment.

“Anyone who has been to the affected regions in northern Italy — Lombardy, Veneto Emilia, Romagna, and Piedmont — in the last 14 days and has a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or fever, should self-isolate and phone their GP immediately,” he said.

Anyone who has travelled from the affected regions in northern Italy and has no symptoms should visit HSE.ie for advice.

The European Centre for Disease Control now rates the risk of the occurrence of similar clusters of cases in other EU countries as moderate to high.

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