THERE ARE now nine confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland and millions are being urged to take precautions as the virus, which started in China, spreads across the globe.
The death toll has crossed the 100 mark in Italy, which is the worst affected country in Europe.
Independent.ie took a look at the precautions which are being taken by government officials in Italy, the United Kingdom and Ireland itself as more cases of COVID-19 emerge.
Over 3,000 people have tested positive and 107 have died from the virus in Italy, according to the latest polls. The country is seeing the largest outbreak of the virus in Europe.
Eleven towns have been put in lockdown and the Italian government is currently considering closing cinemas, theatres and banning public events that “entail the concentration of people and do not allow for a safety distance of at least one metre”.
Companies are also encouraging working from home and travel bans have been put in place, with work trips abroad postponed.
Patients will no longer be allowed to bring in their friends or relatives into hospital emergency departments and further restrictions will be put in place on visitors in retirement homes.
Yesterday, the Italian government ordered all schools and universities nationwide to close until March 15.
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte said: “We are focused on taking all measures for direct containment or delaying the spread of the virus.”
“The health system risks going into overload and we will have a problem with intensive care if an exponential crisis continues.”
People are urged to avoid going straight to the hospital or seeking the help of their doctor if they have symptoms. Instead, they are encouraged to self-isolate at home. The government has set up a coronavirus hotline for advice in English, Italian and Chinese.
Italian officials are advising that over 75s and over 65s with respiratory issues should stay at home and “avoid social contact”. Italians are also advised to keep one metre away from other people at all times and avoid kissing baci e abbracci, the famous Italian habit of kissing and hugging people upon meeting as well as avoiding drinking from other people’s glasses.
As of today, more than 18,000 people were tested in the UK, of which 116 were confirmed as positive, an increase from 51 cases just two days ago. It has been confirmed that one person has died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, an elderly patient who had underlying health conditions.
Closing workplaces is not recommended at the moment, even if a member of staff with confirmed COVID-19 has recently been in the workplace. Public Health England says there is no need to send staff home, as most possible cases turn out to be negative.
According to the BBC, oil company Chevron has asked 300 staff not to come into its office in London "for the time being".
Media communications agency OMD said an employee reported symptoms after returning from Australia with a flight connection through Singapore.
The firm said the chance that it was the coronavirus was minimal but that it was asking staff to work from home "as a precautionary measure, and until definitive results of the employee's coronavirus test is confirmed".
So far, a total of 10 schools have been closed due to the coronavirus, with others advising their students to self isolate. However, these have all re-opened.
A school in Berkshire said that one of its staff had tested positive for the virus, later tweeting that it would close for a deep clean.
Travel and isolation
People are advised to “stay indoors and avoid contact with people immediately” if they have returned to the UK from Hubei in China, lockdown or northern areas in Italy, Iran and special care zones in South Korea, even if they do not have symptoms.
The UK government is carrying out “enhanced monitoring” in countries that have direct flights to the UK. Passengers will be told how to report any symptoms they develop during the flight, at the time of arrival, or after leaving the airport.
So far, there are a total of thirteen confirmed cases in the Republic, including a family of four who recently returned from a trip in Italy. There are three confirmed cases in Northern Ireland.
The first diagnosis of coronavirus in a person who has hasn't travelled overseas or been in contact with any of the known cases has been confirmed in Cork.
According to the HSE, the risk of catching COVID-19 in Ireland is low to moderate and the public is urged to wash hands often, sneeze and cough into a tissue and to not touch face, mouth or eyes if hands aren’t clean.
Those who have symptoms and have travelled to an affected area are advised to avoid going to the hospital and to ring their GP first.
Health Minister Simon Harris confirmed today there will be school closures arising from the four cases of the new coronavirus in Co Clare.
He said it is unclear how long they will close and in some instances it will be two weeks while in other schools it relates to one class.
Thousands of Google employees continued to work from home today after fears that an employee showed COVID-19 symptoms.
It is not clear for how long this policy will remain in place and Twitter staff across the world were also asked to work from home in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
While there are no travel restrictions in place, the Department of Foreign Affairs “strongly recommends” that those travelling abroad obtain a European Health Insurance Card as well as comprehensive travel insurance.
The government is also advising against “non-essential” travel to northern Italy and China. Previously, this was limited to nine worst affected towns but this has now been extended to the four affected provinces.
The Department of Health advises that any person who has traveled from an affected area in the last 14 days, or has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and is showing symptoms should “immediately isolate themselves from others and contact their GP by phone”.