Calls to ban gatherings of over 500 people; Seamless transition to new Govt needed

“Do it now to limit the spread and keep it down and catch it before there’s more community spread,” Dr Yvonne Williams told RTÉ's Today with Séan O’Rourke.

Calls to ban gatherings of over 500 people; Seamless transition to new Govt needed

Mary Lou McDonald: Seamless transition needed from current to next government

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has warned that there needs to be a seamless transition in the formation of the next government to deal with the coronavirus.

The situation with the virus is so serious that there isn’t time for a new Taoiseach or Minister for Health to take a few weeks to “catch up,” she told RTÉ Today with Séan O’Rourke show.

It is very much in everyone’s interests to have full political involvement in plans to combat the spread of the virus and to ensure public confidence and maintain a sense of calm “with a difficult situation.”

Ms McDonald said she could not do her job as the leader of a considerable political party if she was learning of plans through the media.

We need to pull together now with concentrated leadership while the government is being formed.

It shouldn’t take a public health emergency to make Fianna Fáil realise they need to talk to all political parties, she added.

Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader Dara Calleary said that his party will work closely with all parties “in a collective effort” to respond to the coronavirus.

Doctor calls on government to ban gatherings of over 500 people

A general practitioner from Co Clare has called on the Minister for Health to immediately implement a shut down and to ban gatherings of more than 500 people.

Dr Yvonne Williams said the Minister should do something before the end of this week.

“Do it now to limit the spread and keep it down and catch it before there’s more community spread,” she told RTÉ's Today with Séan O’Rourke.

Dr Williams, of Shannon Medical Centre also called on the HSE to use social media as a means of keeping the public informed. Using social media would stop fear and misinformation.

Not naming schools did not make sense, she said. Doing so created greater fear. Naming a school would not breach patient confidentiality, she said.

Her practice is doing a lot more telephone triage with patients who are calling for letters to allow them work from home and for sick certs to allow them care for family members.

The call comes as the government are coming under mounting pressure to cancel the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin.

Meanwhile, Dr Conor O’Toole, of the Slievemór clinic in Stillorgan, Co Dublin told the same programme how his practice had closed its waiting room and introduced a policy of having patients remain in their car outside and they are then phoned when the doctor is ready to see them.

The coronavirus is a big challenge for general practitioners, he added.

People who think they have the coronavirus should not come into a GP practice, that could close our doors.

Dr Williams said she felt that passengers on all flights coming into the country from Italy should self-isolate.

She acknowledged that the authorities face the difficulty of being accused of over reaction if they implement a shut down too early. Alternatively, if they leave it too late the situation could end up the same as Italy.

“We have a chance not to follow what happened in Italy.”

The Health Minister says a decision on St Patrick's Day parades will be made in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Twenty-one people in the Republic now have the coronavirus.

Two new cases were confirmed last night, which include a female in the east of the country and a male in the south of the country.

Simon Harris says a decision on this year's St Patrick's celebrations will be made shortly.

Any decision in relation to the cancellation of public events such as parades will be taken following advice from public health experts.

“We will follow advice to the letter, we will be monitoring the situation constantly.”

It comes after a number of parades in Co Cork have been called off.

In the capital, former Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke said if the government doesn't call a halt, he will ask council management to pull support.

'Health before profit' - Calls for Govt to cancel St Patrick's Day parades

Former Lord Mayor of Dublin wants the capital's St Patrick's Day Parade postponed

A former Lord Mayor of Dublin wants the capital's St Patrick's Day Parade postponed, to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Christy Burke said if the government doesn't call a halt, he will ask council management to pull support.

Yesterday parade organisers in Whitegate and Blarney in Co Cork said their events couldn't go ahead - with Midleton, Cobh and Youghal already called off.

Cllr Christy Burke says he has been "inundated with phone calls" from concerned constituents.

"They are nearly afraid to go out," he said. "One woman last night said she hopes nobody turns up for the parade.

"We're not spoiljoys," he said, adding he was "genuinely concerned" with the amount of calls he has received and the anxiety in the community.

At the end of the day, it is health before profit.

This story was updated at 10.43am

- Additional reporting Digital Desk

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