| 9.6°C Dublin

Irish GPs will get face masks and gowns as coronavirus fears grow


Kildare teacher Ben Kavanagh flew to the UK from Wuhan

Kildare teacher Ben Kavanagh flew to the UK from Wuhan

Kildare teacher Ben Kavanagh flew to the UK from Wuhan

Irish GPs are to be provided with full head-to-toe protective gowns and masks next week after warning the failure of the HSE to provide safety gear left them at risk of the deadly coronavirus.

It follows growing concern about the virus threat here, following the detection of the first two cases of the killer infection in the UK.

The HSE confirmed that the packs will be sent to GP surgeries after angry doctors' protests and the revelation that two Chinese tourists staying in an English hotel are infected with the virus.

The HSE's official guidance to GPs on caring for a patient suspected of having the deadly virus is to wear a protective gown and goggles.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency. The UN health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a co-ordinated international response.

But Dublin doctor Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail said their protection was ignored by the HSE.

"GPs are responsible for 92pc of all patient activity," he said.

"We need to be resourced to tackle the challenge."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the spread of the virus an international public health emergency.

There is particular concern at the human-to-human transmission of the virus, which increases the risk of it spreading.

The virus has infected 10,000 people and killed 213.

Timelapse of motorway in Wuhan, China, which is under lockdown following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

It has spread to 20 countries outside China.

Two Chinese tourists became the first patients in Britain to test positive for coronavirus during a holiday to York.

Meanwhile, three Irish people who were on a rescue flight to the UK from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China are spending two weeks in quarantine at NHS staff accommodation in Arrowe Park Hospital, in the Wirral, Merseyside.

They include Kildare teacher Ben Kavanagh, who posted a selfie on Instagram showing him on an almost empty aircraft, with a caption jokingly saying: "Group selfie of me and my friends."

A look at confirmed cases and deaths from the coronavirus around the world as China extends its new year holiday in an attempt to contain the spread.

The Irish were among a group of more than 100 passengers on the RAF flight which landed at an airbase in Oxfordshire before travelling to Spain with other Europeans.

The passengers had to sign a contract agreeing to isolation before they could board the flight, and also underwent temperature checks.

The quarantined group will be given free accommodation in fully furnished rooms, and food and laundry facilities.

Kitchens are available if people want to cook for themselves.

A team of medical staff, who will wear protective suits, will closely monitor their condition.

Briton Chris Hill talks about his reasons for staying in coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China and the reaction from the Foreign Office when he told officials he would not be accepting the flight he was offered back to the UK.

If any of them become ill they can be treated at the nearby Royal Liverpool Hospital, which has a high-level infectious diseases unit.

Meanwhile, Chinese nationals in Ireland who want to stay here and reschedule their return to China are expected to be granted an extension.

The Department of Justice and Equality said that it is "currently examining the immigration position of Chinese nationals, currently in Ireland, who require an extension of their permission as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in China".

A statement said that the department is liaising closely with the HSE.

And it is monitoring the ever-evolving situation.

"In relation to both visas and immigration permissions" it will "adopt a pragmatic approach" to those whose terms are coming to an end here.

A number of Irish people who have families and partners remain in lockdown in China.

Irish Independent