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Press Release

Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team - Monday 2 March

Published: 2 March 2020
From: Department of Health

The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has today confirmed the risk of widespread sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the EU and UK in the coming weeks is moderate to high.

Ireland remains in a containment phase, with one confirmed case currently in isolation and contact tracing is underway.

The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet again Tuesday 3 March to evaluate the evolving international situation and consider Ireland’s ongoing preparedness.

The general public are advised to follow public health advice and:

  • wash your hands properly and regularly
  • cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze
  • visit HSE.ie for further information and updates

Following the identification of a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the east of the country on Saturday 29 Feb, a secondary school was closed for the duration of the Covid-19 incubation period, which is 14 days.

A letter from the Chief Medical Officer to parents of all school children, across the country, was issued today.

Part of this letter states:

“The decision to close the school for 14 days is a precautionary one and arises because pupils and teachers may have had direct contact with the confirmed case.
“However, siblings not attending the school concerned, parents and other members of the community are not regarded as contacts and can continue their daily routine as normal.”

The general public is advised to follow advice from the HSE and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre to protect their health.

ENDS

Key Health Messages:

  • more than 80% of people who have contracted the virus have experienced it in a mild form and generally recover in 2 – 3 weeks, while 20% experience a more severe form of the disease, this tends to be associated with older age (greater than 60 years old and having other health issues, for example heart disease)
  • as with influenza, the people most at risk are the elderly and those with underlying illness
  • Covid-19 does not to appear to be as infectious as some other diseases – while a person with measles typically passes the virus on to 14 other people for example, with Covid-19 that number is estimated to be between two and three
  • Covid-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person’s body fluids (e.g. droplets from coughing or sneezing), or by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on
  • current information suggests the Covid-19 virus may survive a few hours on surfaces but can be killed with simple household disinfectants

The most important action we can take to protect ourselves from Covid-19 is regular hand-washing and good cough/sneeze hygiene.

Notes to the Editor:

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

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

  • wash your hand 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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