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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C

'This is not a Chinese disease': Concerns derogatory language may stop coronavirus sufferers coming forward

There are currently no confirmed cases in Ireland.

THE HSE HAS said it is “very concerned” about the coronavirus being portrayed as a Chinese disease in Ireland as it may stop potential cases coming forward.  

HSE Assistant National Director Dr Kevin Kelleher told reporters that the health service has been very careful when describing the virus and stressed that “this is not a Chinese disease”.

“It is very inappropriate to be using that, and using that in a derogatory way, and using that to discriminate against people.

It is about people who have returned from China. And that is nationals of this country, other European countries, and some Chinese nationals, but it is not a Chinese disease. And that has great potential to cause people not to come forward as a consequence if that goes on, and that degree of prejudice exists.

“So I urge you all please make sure that we don’t use it that way,” Kelleher said, adding “we really are trying to make sure we don’t miss a case”. 

The HSE confirmed that “as of lunchtime today” there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ireland

“You are extremely unlikely to catch novel coronavirus from someone in Ireland,” health officials said but if there is a future case, “health professionals will contact anyone who has been in close contact with the infected person to advise them”. 

Dr Kelleher said that the HSE would not comment on any individual cases unless they are confirmed. 

PastedImage-94089 HSE HSE

Kelleher advised that if people have been to mainland China in the last 14 days they should contact their local public health department. 

Signs of infection include; 

  • Respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties) 
  • fever
  • in severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure. 

In response to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, the National Crisis Management Team has met three times since last Thursday, hospitals are reviewing their critical care capacity and ability to surge if required with isolation rooms identified in all sites. 

Additionally, personal protective equipment packs -  made up of gowns, gloves, masks and goggles – are being dispatched to GPs and clinics around the country. 

Kelleher said the HSE is now at a point that once it identifies a possible case, it is able to diagnose them within 24-36 hours. 

PastedImage-93711 HSE HSE

Earlier today, a third person in England tested positive for the virus, but “did not acquire the coronavirus in the UK,” according to the health officials there. 

Last Friday, three Irish citizens began a two-week-long quarantine in a Liverpool hospital after being evacuated alongside UK citizens from the corona-virus hit city of Wuhan, China. 

The HSE said that once those Irish people in quarantine have been cleared by the UK authorities “they can go wherever they wish”. 

The global death toll from the virus has now risen to 565, with the number of confirmed cases rising to 28,273.

To assist with the work to help control the spread of the coronavirus, the Irish government yesterday allocated €500,000 to the World Health Organisation. 

The WHO has requested around €610 million in funding from world nations to combat the spread of the novel virus.

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