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Mass gatherings and Covid-19: Don't attend if sick and consider your plans if you're in an 'at risk' group

It was confirmed today that a total of 18 people have the illness in the Republic while four have it in the North.

St Patrick's Day parade last year.
St Patrick's Day parade last year.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE HSE HAS issued guidelines to both the organisers of mass gatherings and those intending to attend them in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in Ireland. 

It was confirmed this evening that a total of 18 people have the illness in the Republic while four have it in the North. 

There had been concerns for large gatherings such as the St Patrick’s Day festival. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said earlier today that “there is no recommendation to cancel mass gatherings at this stage”.

However, no official decision has been made on the 17 March festivities as of yet and it is still subject to change. 

At least one parade has already been postponed, with organisers of the parade in Youghal, Co Cork announcing this morning that it will not go ahead. 

Organisers of sporting events across the country are also being urged to take precautionary activity with many stadia deciding to introduce hand sanitisers. Advice is alse being offered to attendees upon their arrival at the venues. 

The HSE guidelines on attending mass gatherings were published today. 

The advice, which can be read in full here, includes: 

  • If you are unwell, do not attend a mass gathering event 
  • Read available information and recommendations available on the mass gathering event’s website, social media pages prior to attending the event
  • High risk groups (people aged 65 years and older, people with long-term medical conditions) – consider if attending the mass gathering is in your best interest
  • Discuss your concerns with your doctor
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick
  • Read distributed leaflets and signage when attending mass gathering events 

Those organising events have also been urged to follow the HSE guidelines which include asking sick staff members or attendees not to attend. 

Hospital visiting 

Meanwhile, strict visitor restrictions have been introduced with immediate effect across the South/South West Hospital Group due to infection control concerns. The hospitals where these restrictions have been implemented are as follows:

  • Cork University Hospital
  • Cork University Maternity Hospital
  • University Hospital Kerry
  • University Hospital Waterford
  • South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital
  • Mercy University Hospital
  • Bantry General Hospital
  • Mallow General Hospital

A spokesperson for the hospital group said: “This is in the interest of patient care and in order to prevent the spread of infection. Anyone with any queries about visiting times or visiting a particular hospital should ring the respective hospital directly.

“We regret any inconvenience caused to patients and relatives by these necessary measures. All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made by each hospital to manage and contain the spread of infection.”

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