Coronavirus: Now 13 people have Covid-19 in the Republic

Additional seven cases test positive today but numbers ‘still small’ – chief medical officer

 Healthcare professionals wear protective suits and healthcare masks  in Turin, northern Italy. File photograph: Alessandro Di Marco/EPA

Healthcare professionals wear protective suits and healthcare masks in Turin, northern Italy. File photograph: Alessandro Di Marco/EPA

 

An additional seven cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed, bringing the total number of cases to 13 in the Republic.

The numbers in Northern Ireland remain at three cases.

Four of the new cases in the Republic related to travel from northern Italy, and involved males in the east of the country, according to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Two are associated with close contact with a previously confirmed case, two females in the west of the country .

One case of community transmission, a male from the south of the country, is associated with Cork University Hospital and a risk assessment is underway in relation to the exposure of health workers, NPHET said.

The HSE is now working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients may have had, to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, said:

“Ireland remains in containment phase with just one case of community transmission. This is, however, a rapidly evolving situation. Public health doctors are working hard to ensure our containment measures are operating effectively.

“Most people who become infected with Covid-19 experience a mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for some.

“However, this will need a national effort. Every individual needs to be aware of how to protect their own health and the health of others.”

Despite the increase in cases, Dr Holohan said he was not alarmed.

“This is what we would have anticipated. It matches the pattern of most other countries’ experience.”

He said the number of cases was “still small” and officials were confident they can prevent significant further transmission.

Other than the case in Cork, he said, public health officials could explain how the patients involved were infected.

CUH

In relation to the Cork case, HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said the Cork University Hospital had put in place “robust, immediate actions that put patient safety first”.

These include the cancellation of elective surgeries, visitor restrictions and the clearance of further space for isolating patients.

“We can’t explain this case by way of travel history or contact with a person” who is a confirmed case, Dr Holohan said.

And despite the surge in cases related to travellers returning from Italy, he said there were no plans to introduce a travel ban for any region.

A travel ban would be neither proportionate nor effective in preventing transmission, he said.

The patient at CUH is receiving intensive care in an isolation unit there. It is understood the male coronavirus patient received treatment in the hospital last week and was discharged. He was readmitted in recent days and tested for the virus. The National Virus Reference Laboratory confirmed a positive test on Thursday.

CUH said it was introducing strict visitor restrictions “with immediate effect” due to infection control concerns.

“This is in the interest of patient care and in order to prevent the spread of infections within the hospital.”

The hospital said it regretted any inconvenience caused to patients and relatives by “these necessary measures.

“All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of infection.”

Hospital management have advised people to contact their GP or out-of-hours service (SouthDoc) in the first instance and to explore “all other options available to them” before going to the emergency departments in the city if their needs are not urgent.

Based in Trinity College

Meanwhile journalist Seán McCárthaigh adds that it emerged on Thursday evening that one of the four new patients identified with coronavirus in Dublin is based in Trinity College Dublin.

The university notified all students and staff via email that a positive case of Covid-19 had been confirmed in the college.

“We are now working closely with the authorities to ensure that this individual receives the best care possible,” said Trinity.

It said the HSE would trace anyone who had been in contact with the infected individual to ensure they received any necessary medical attention.

The university said it and the HSE would take all appropriate steps to contain any further spread of the virus and protect the welfare of Trinity’s students and staff.

Trinity confirmed that the university would remain “open and operating as normal”. Provost Patrick Prendergast said the relevant part of the university – fourth floor of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute as well as lifts in the building – had been closed as a precautionary measure and would be cleaned in accordance with HSE guidelines.

Dr Prendergast said the situation remained fluid and advised people attending the university to check their emails for the latest official advice on a regular basis.