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Covid-19: Dublin secondary school to close for two weeks after pupil confirmed as first case in Rep of Ireland

Officials attended a media briefing this evening.

Dr John Cuddihy, HSE director of public health, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, and Deputy Chief Medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn, during the press conference at Department of Health.
Dr John Cuddihy, HSE director of public health, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, and Deputy Chief Medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn, during the press conference at Department of Health.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Mar 1st 2020, 7:39 PM

A SCHOOL IN Dublin is set to close for 14 days in response to the first case of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland. 

Last night, the first case of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland was confirmed. The patient is a male and a resident in the eastern part of the country. 

It’s understood the patient is a pupil at the school and that the school is based in Glasnevin, Dublin 9. 

He is currently receiving medical treatment. 

Health officials have contacted the school and the principal, staff and parents of pupils of this school have been notified.

The Department of Health has not specified what connection there is between the Covid-19 patient and the school. 

All pupils and teachers are being asked to restrict their movements until the end of the incubation period.

Officials said that they will receive guidance on the meaning of “restricted movements”.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said in a statement: “Contact tracing has assessed that close contacts of this patient includes pupils and teachers of a secondary school. Public health doctors are in direct contact with pupils, their parents and the staff involved.”

He said that patient confidentiality should be “respected”. 

A statement, issued on behalf of the Department of Education, said it “is available to assist the school in any way necessary”.

It said that the department was in “regular contact” with the Department of Health. 

The closing of this school was a decision made on public health grounds after risk assessment deemed it appropriate. All other schools will remain open. The Departments will continue to communicate with all schools on this issue.

TDs and local representatives have tweeted this evening, urging people to take the advice of the HSE and Department of Health.

‘Contact tracing’

Earlier today, Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer in the department, told the This Week programme on RTÉ Radio One that contact tracing commenced in the past 24 hours and is ongoing. 

This evening, Holohan confirmed that contact tracing has not yet been completed. 

“It’s a large school in numbers terms,” he said. But he was clear that this incident doesn’t move Ireland from the containment to the mitigation phase of response to Covid-19. 

Holohan declined to say whether the patient is a pupil or a teacher at the school, telling reporters that it was about protecting the person’s identity.

Asked about whether the school could soon be identified on social media, Holohan said “that may well be”. 

“From our point of view, this information won’t come from us,” he said. 

Holohan added that health officials would provide daily briefings from now with an update on Covid-19 in Ireland.

Contact tracing has, however, been completed regarding the confirmed case in Northern Ireland according to the officials.

Response

There are no plans to introduce flight restrictions from northern Italy to Ireland, officials said this evening. 

Dr Cillian De Gascun, virologist and chair of the HSE’s Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group, said last night: “Nothing really changes for Ireland, we’re still in the containment phase.”

In a statement last night, health minister Simon Harris said he had notified Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of the case and urged people to heed the advice of health officials. 

The Department of Health has said it will provide an update on the number of people in Ireland tested for Covid-19 this coming Tuesday. 

Worldwide, about 87,000 people have been infected and nearly 3,000 people killed since the virus was first detected late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

China reported a fresh spike in infections today, with 573 new cases – the highest figure in a week after a dip.

All but three of them were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital. The virus has spread to more than 60 countries around the globe, prompting the World Health Organisation to raise its risk assessment to its highest level.

According to the most extensive study done so far, the novel coronavirus was benign in 80.9% of cases, “serious” in 13.8% and “critical” in 4.7%.

The remaining 0.6% was not specified.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Part of the reason Covid-19 has been declared a public health emergency is due to the speed at which it has spread compared to other coronaviruses (like Sars and Mers) and the fact that there’s a lot about the disease we still don’t know – including how exactly it’s being transmitted.

The HSE’s main advice page on the coronavirus changed overnight to note the new case. 

In a section detailing the risk of catching the virus, the latest advice says:

The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still low. This may change. However, most people may continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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