Confirmed Covid-19 cases now stand at 19

By Sharon Dolan D’Arcy

The National Public Health Emergency Team has confirmed a total of 19 cases on Covid-19 in the Republic.

This follows a new case of COVID-19 in Ireland at midday, a male, in the east of Ireland, associated with travel from northern Italy.

The HSE says it is working ‘rapidly’ to identify any contacts the patient may have had and 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.”

With the threat of pressure being put on the health service because of the spread of Covid-19, a recruitment ban on nurses has been lifted.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, the general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) told RTÉ Radio One’s Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra programme that the organisation got confirmation this morning that the recruitment freeze had been lifted.

“We sought confirmation that it would be lifted for nurses and midwives… We got confirmation last night that any barriers to recruitment had been lifted,” she said.

HSE senior management are currently meeting with staff in the affected hospitals, offering guidance and support.

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