Minister Harris condemns misinformation about coronavirus

Mr Harris was speaking at an emergency meeting of the European Health Ministers in Brussels.

Minister Harris condemns misinformation about coronavirus

Europe must act together to stop “the spread of misinformation” about Covid-19, Health Minister Simon Harris has urged.

Mr Harris was speaking at an emergency meeting of the European Health Ministers in Brussels.

Public communication was an important part of their response and Europe must also act together to stop the spread of misinformation about the virus, he said.

“Those who spread such lies are increasing the stigma attached to this virus,” said Mr Harris.

They are endangering lives and they are stopping us from doing our jobs. Our public health doctors should lead our response to this matter.

The ministers discussed the ongoing disease outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus and the effects on health services.

They heard from the World Health Organisation, the European Centre for Disease Control and the European Medicines Agency about ongoing efforts to contain the virus and the appropriate responses.

Mr Harris said Ireland remained in the containment phase but while other countries were in different situations it was vital that they worked together.

“We are better protected if we work together on this. We need rational, coherent decision-making based on science and public health,” he said.

Mr Harris said it was clear that the virus was 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.”

He said it was important to state the obvious – that they were dealing fast-evolving dynamic situation.

Mr Harris said people across the EU were worried and he hoped that they would be reassured that everything was being done to contain the spread of the virus and looking at ways of beating it.

“I very much want to acknowledge the extent of cooperation ongoing between member states in response to Covid-19 and to express my hope that our shared efforts continue and deepen as this crisis develops.”

They also needed to be conscious that any action or inaction taken by one member state had a direct impact on other member states.

“This is a global crisis; it is a European crisis and, therefore, we have to deepen that solidarity.”

Mr Harris welcomed the European Commission's decision to significantly increase research funding into Covid-19.

He said the €47m in funding would be spent on finding a vaccine and developing better diagnostics for the virus.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

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