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Press Release

Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team - Saturday 7 March

Published: 7 March 2020
From: Department of Health

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been informed of a new confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ireland, a male, in the east of Ireland, associated with travel from northern Italy.

There are now 19 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, as of midday, Saturday 7 March.

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

The National Public Health Emergency Team met today, Saturday 7 March, to consider guidance from the Expert Advisory Group on managing healthcare workers who are close contacts of a confirmed case.

This guidance was developed in light of the recent diagnosis of COVID-19 in a patient hospitalised in Cork University Hospital, which has led to a significant number of close contacts with healthcare workers.

Dr Cillian de Gascun, Chair of the Expert Advisory Group, said:

"There is a risk to patients of acquiring COVID-19 from an exposed health care worker.
"However, if a health facility cannot be staffed safely to provide critical services, then the following guidance to mitigate risk will assist:
health care workers who have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have developed symptoms should be excluded from work
health care workers who have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have NOT developed symptoms, AND are deemed to be essential workers, may work, provided they observe strict adherence to infection prevention and control precautions, and undergo twice daily active monitoring by occupational health, for 14 days after contact with a confirmed case of COVID19."

Speaking after today’s National Public Health Emergency Team meeting Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health, said:

"COVID-19, as with other infectious diseases, creates risk to patient care in two ways - the risk of transmission from an infected health care worker and the risk of serious impact on patient care by loss of significant numbers of essential staff.
"The National Public Health Emergency Team has decided to adopt the guidance of the Expert Advisory Group, to be implemented in Cork University Hospital and Limerick Hospital immediately."

HSE senior management are currently meeting with staff in the affected hospitals, offering guidance and support.

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer in the HSE, said:

"Healthcare workers are at the frontline of this virus outbreak. The Department of Health and the HSE are equally dedicated to protecting and supporting this vital group of people, along with ensuring patient care."

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

The Expert Advisory Group comprises:

    Dr Cillian de Gascun Director NVRL, Consultant Virologist (Chair)
    Dr Vida Hamilton National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead, Acute Hospitals
    Dr Joanne O’Gorman Consultant Microbiologist, Rotunda Hospital
    Dr Gerard O’Connor Consultant Emergency Medicine, Mater Hospital
    Dr Derval Igoe Consultant Public Health Medicine, NVRL/HPSC
    Dr John Cuddihy Director, Health Protection Surveillance Centre
    Dr Aoife Cotter Consultant Infectious Diseases, National Isolation Unit
    Ms Helen Murphy AMRIC Team, HPSC
    Dr Jeanette McCallion Health Products Regulatory Authority
    Mr Robert Glennon Immunisation Policy Unit Department of Health
    Prof Colm Bergin Consultant Infectious Diseases, St James’s Hospital
    Professor Aurelie Fabre Consultant Histopathologist
    Dr Lynda Sisson Consultant in Occupational Medicine, Dean Faculty of Occupational Medicine, RCPI
    Dr Ciara Martin Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine
    Dr Sean Gaine Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Mater
    Dr Margaret O’ Sullivan Chair, National Zoonoses Committee, Consultant Public Health Medicine
    Prof Martin Cormican Consultant Microbiologist, National Clinical Lead HCAI/AMR
    Prof Karina Butler Chair, National Immunisation Advisory Committee, Consultant Paediatric ID
    Dr David Hanlon HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Primary Care
    Dr Colman O’ Loughlin Consultant Intensive Care Medicine, Mater Hospital
    Dr Ronan Glynn Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health

The Department of Health has developed public health advice posters that are available for the public to download and display on their premises.

The National Public Health Emergency Team case definition includes 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 an affected region (mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iran and four regions in northern Italy) in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms should self-isolate and call their GP
  • anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms should immediately self-isolate and call their GP
  • anyone who has been to an affected region (China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Iran and four regions in northern Italy) in the last 14 days, and are well, should visit www.HSE.ie for advice

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to show.

Symptoms may include:

  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties
  • fever (high temperature)

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can also cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Things you can do to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 (Coronavirus) include:

  • wash your hands properly and regularly
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze

Wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub:

  • after coughing and sneezing
  • after toilet use
  • before eating
  • before and after preparing food

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