Concern about the spread of the new coronavirus seems to have escalated sharply in recent days.
The large outbreak in Italy is very unsettling. At least 190 people in Italy's north have tested positive for the virus and six have died, including an 84-year-old man who died overnight in Bergamo. None of the people were in China.
Officials still have not identified the person who brought the infection to Italy.
The Italian government has introduced draconian measures. It has closed off the worst-hit areas in the areas of Lombardy and Veneto. Milan city is not under lockdown and flights are continuing to fly in and out.
In eleven north Italian towns, 50,000 people have been in lockdown since Friday night, with police patrolling the streets and fines imposed on anyone caught entering or leaving outbreak areas.
Most coronavirus infections are still in China but apart from Italy there are outbreaks in South Korea and Iran.
There is no case of the coronavirus detected in Ireland and around 78 have been tested here over the past few weeks. All were negative.
But there is now an increased threat to Ireland and other EU countries.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention said in the light of the outbreak in Italy the risk of similar clusters in EU countries has been elevated to “moderate to high.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising people not travel to affected areas in Italy.
These include Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Lazio. There is no travel ban and it is a matter for the person themselves whether to travel.
But they must weigh up the risk as well as restrictions of movement and closures they would face depending on where in the region they travel to. In light of the Department of Foreign Affairs advice, people who cancel can get a refund.
If they are unwell and have symptoms like a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or fever they should contact their GP for advice by phone, rather than going to the surgery or hospital.
The match is under review for now but not cancelled. It is expected to be tomorrow before the expert group would be able to make a decision on it.
They will carry out a risk assessment based on advice from the European Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation. The prospect of large numbers of Italian fans coming here and the risk they might pose would have to be assessed.
The European Centre for Disease Control is meeting today and is likely to issue new advice. This could mean most testing for the virus of people who returned to Ireland from Italy in the last two weeks who develop symptoms.
Ireland remains coronavirus-free and the hope is that if and when it does come, it will be confined to a small number of cases which will be contained.
To do that could involve the roll out of a series of strict measures including getting people to self isolate. It’s unchartered territory but some lockdown could not be ruled out. The advice is to prepare for the worst.
Ireland does not have enough intensive care units currently so patients can face delays before admission. Dealing with coronavirus patients would place huge pressure on these units but the expert group overseeing planning for the virus here said all hospitals would be able to provide them.
Yes. That could be major exercise.They may not be normally resident in Ireland and some accommodation would have to be found if they need to go into isolation for fourteen days.
For around 80.9pc the infection is mild. Less than 5pc are critical. It kills up to 15pc of patients over the age of 80.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the coronavirus remains an international emergency. The terms pandemic was used in the past when when a new disease spread to several countries and showed sustained transmission between humans. But some experts say this is happening with coronavirus.
If a pandemic hits, containment has failed and the focus will switch to mitigation- slowing down how fast the virus spreads through a population. Mitigation can occur via individual measures, such as frequent hand washing, and collective measures.
This would see more cancellations of mass events, office closures and working from home.