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Chief Medical Officer: People returning from areas affected by coronavirus should 'self-isolate' if displaying symptoms

Dr Tony Holohan said that the HSE would be issuing guidelines about self-isolation.

Dr Tony Holohan has offered guidance on how people should self-isolate if they're displaying coronavirus symptoms.
Dr Tony Holohan has offered guidance on how people should self-isolate if they're displaying coronavirus symptoms.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER Dr Tony Holohan has told people to “self-isolate” if they return from a region affected by coronavirus and are displaying symptoms. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, Holohan said: “If you have come back from any of those regions in the last 14 days and experience flu-like symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or a fever – you should stay at home.”

“Make contact with your GP and be guided by your GP from there,” Holohan said. 

Concerns about the threat of coronavirus have grown since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Italy. 

Several regions of Italy have been badly affected by the coronavirus, with over 200 people diagnosed so far.

Ninety cases have been tested in Ireland, but all have come back negative. No one in Ireland has yet tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We expect to see cases here,” Holohan said. He said that people should practice self-isolation if they are returning from the regions affected in Italy, China and in several other countries. 

“Self-isolate means to stay at home, to avoid social contact,” he said. 

Anybody coming back from those affected regions, we’d be advising them to self-isolate and to make contact with your GP in the event they have symptoms and be guided then by their advice of their GP.

Holohan said that the HSE will be publishing guidelines on self-isolation on its website.  

These guidelines, he said, would provide “very detailed instructions” about what to do in the event of needing to self-isolate. 

Holohan also set out what individuals should do if a family member is in self-isolation in the same home. 

“Individuals living in that home may well be close-contact and contact may already have taken place within the home,” he said. In the case of a child, “a parent may already have been in close contact so restricting contact between a parent and a case at that point might have limited value in protecting the parent”. 

In a bid to reduce pressure on hospitals, Holohan said that the government had decided that an individual who has been tested for coronavirus in an Irish hospital can be asked to “go home and self-isolate”. 

Schools

Schools in Wicklow and Dublin are now taking precautions after students returned from ski trips in Italy. 

A group of students in second year at Presentation College Bray had recently returned from a ski trip in Italy. The school says it has been in contact with the HSE over how to proceed and that anyone who is feeling ill is being advised to seek medical advice. 

Parents of children at Mount Anville Secondary School in Goatstown, south Dublin are being asked to be monitor their child’s condition after a group there returned from a ski trip in Italy in the last week. 

Commenting on the precautions and the ongoing response to coronavirus in Ireland a spokesperson for second- and third-level union the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) said: “We will be guided on this matter by the relevant Government departments, including the Department of Education, and members should follow the most up to date public health advice issued by these departments.”

“Clearly, this is a developing situation, and should additional advice or updates on any aspect of the situation be communicated to us by the Department of Education or other departments, we will of course relay this to our members.

 “Of course, we would anticipate that schools and colleges will act with due prudence in ensuring the health and safety of everybody concerned.”

Rugby

This morning, Minister for Health Simon Harris will meet with the IRFU after the government recommended that the Ireland – Italy Six Nations game does not go ahead. 

“I’m sure [the IFRU] as a responsible organisation will be minded to act in the interest of the health of spectators and players,” Holohan said. 

He said that it will be a matter for the organisation if it opts to hold the Six Nations clash behind closed doors. 

On other mass gatherings, such as St Patrick’s Day, Holohan said decisions will have to be taken. 

“It can be difficult to predict for something that is a number of weeks away. Italy was not a concern for us a week ago,” he said. 

With reporting from Garreth MacNamee

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