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19 confirmed Covid-19 cases nation-wide

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.

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, 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.

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