Coronavirus: New test with faster results available in Ireland

Man removed from flight at Dublin Airport on Saturday night tests negative for virus

Indian medical staff wearing full protective suits hold medical waste as they exit from a coronavirus isolated ward in Keral,  India. Photograph: Prakash Elamakkara / EPA

Indian medical staff wearing full protective suits hold medical waste as they exit from a coronavirus isolated ward in Keral, India. Photograph: Prakash Elamakkara / EPA

 

New testing kits for the novel Coronavirus, which deliver results within four to six hours, are now available in Ireland.

This comes after a man who exhibited symptons tested negative for the virus after being removed from a Aeroflot flight at Dublin Airport on Saturday night. 

The test is carried out on nasal and throat swabs taken from the patient and results are available four to six hours of a sample arriving at the National Virus Reference Laboratory.

Public health experts are expecting to see a small number of confirmed cases identified in Ireland, most likely involving indirect travel from central China. While a number of major airlines have stopped flying from China, Moscow remains a hub through which travellers reach cities in Western Europe.

Specialists here see general practitioners as having a key role in ensuring there is no community spread of the novel virus. Suspected cases must not be referred to hospital emergency departments; protocol advises isolation in the persons home while the local public health department is contacted.

Declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the 2019 – NCoV virus is now seen by some experts as likely to become a global pandemic. Outside China some 100 cases have been reported in at least 24 countries. The latest WHO situation report puts the worldwide total of confirmed cases of 2019-NCoV at 14,557.

China’s death toll from the new coronavirus jumped above 300 to surpass the number of fatalities of the SARS crisis in 2002/2003. There has been one death outside China – a person who was a close contact of the first patient confirmed in the Philippines.

In a novel move, researchers and academic journals have set up a mechanism for the rapid sharing of research data on the new coronavirus. Key questions that require urgent answers include an accurate estimate of the death rate, as well as more information on how easily the virus can be transmitted from person to person.

The WHO advises the following preventive measures:

  • Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  • Frequent hand washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  • Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover
  • coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
  • “Within healthcare facilities, enhance standard infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, especially in emergency departments.