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Hunt for dozens exposed as number of people with coronavirus doubles in Ireland and Trinity College confirms case

  • A total of 13 confirmed cases in Ireland
  • Trinity College closes part of university campus after confirmed case
  • Man in Cork tested positive despite not being to any affected area

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An Emergency Department Nurse during a demonstration of the Coronavirus pod and COVID-19 virus testing procedures set-up beside the Emergency Department of Antrim Area Hospital, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland. Photo: Michael Cooper/PA Wire

An Emergency Department Nurse during a demonstration of the Coronavirus pod and COVID-19 virus testing procedures set-up beside the Emergency Department of Antrim Area Hospital, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland. Photo: Michael Cooper/PA Wire

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An Emergency Department Nurse during a demonstration of the Coronavirus pod and COVID-19 virus testing procedures set-up beside the Emergency Department of Antrim Area Hospital, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland. Photo: Michael Cooper/PA Wire

Health officials are scrambling to trace dozens more people who could have been exposed to coronavirus after the number of confirmed cases in Ireland doubled in 24 hours.

It was announced last night that 13 people have now been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, as seven more people tested positive yesterday.

Four men from the east of the country contracted the virus after travelling to northern Italy.

Meanwhile, Trinity College sent an email to staff and students last night to inform them there had been a confirmed case of coronavirus on campus and that part of the campus has been closed as a precautionary measure.

"We were informed of a positive case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) within Trinity College Dublin late on Thursday night (March 5). We are now working closely with the authorities to ensure that this individual receives the best care possible," an email to staff and students read.

"The HSE will trace anyone who has been in contact with the infected individual to ensure they receive any necessary medical attention.

"The HSE and University will now take all appropriate steps to contain any further spread of the virus and protect your welfare and the welfare of the University community."

A man in Cork also tested positive for the illness in what is the first case detected in a patient who had not travelled abroad.

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Containment: Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Containment: Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Containment: Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

It was also confirmed that two women in the west of the country were being treated after they tested positive for coronavirus.

The Irish Independent understands these two new cases are linked to a GP, his wife and two children from Co Clare.

It emerged yesterday that the GP may have exposed scores of patients to the infection after he continued to work after returning from north Italy.

He was skiing in a part of Italy which was not listed as at risk when he returned and this meant he was not obliged to isolate himself for 14 days unless he had symptoms.

The Irish Independent understands the GP carried out normal practice surgery on several days, out-of-hours duty and also did a shift in a busy hospital A&E department.

He is also believed to have treated patients in a nursing home.

The positive tests of the GP and his family sparked an urgent hunt by public health doctors for patients who could have been exposed to the virus after the doctor became infectious.

The parents, their daughter and son are being treated in a hospital in the west of Ireland.

It is understood that while all are positive it is just the one of the children who has symptoms.

It also emerged yesterday that two schools - a primary and secondary located over 10km apart - have been shut until March 18 and pupils have been told to restrict their movements.

A number of children in a third school were also asked to go into isolation.

The doctor also did a shift in a west of Ireland hospital A&E department last week with a high number of patients on trolleys.

An emergency meeting took place at the hospital yesterday and student doctors were told to urgently self-isolate until March 12.

Following news of the positive test on Wednesday night, protocols were implemented and a section of the emergency department was closed.

A room or facility where a person who has tested positive for the virus has been must be disinfected.

Patients were transferred out of the unit to allow for the cleaning.

Ambulance staff were informed not to transport patients to the emergency department while the cleaning was underway.

Parents were yesterday coming to terms with the worrying news.

A text to parents said: "A person in your school has tested positive for novel coronavirus (Covid-19). As a precaution, the school will be closed until March 18. The Department of Public Health HSE mid-West will be in contact with you tomorrow with further information. This is the text the HSE has asked to have sent out to all parents and staff."

In a follow-up message to parents yesterday, they were asked to "come and pick up textbooks this morning and tomorrow up to lunchtime. Take care and we will keep you posted".

The third school, also a second-level institution, was closed by school management pending advice from the HSE.

A handwritten sign on the front door of the school yesterday said it would "remain closed today pending advice from the HSE re: Covid-19 virus".

Health officials last night reassured the public that all steps were being taken to contain the spread of the virus.

Speaking at a briefing, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, said: "Ireland remains in containment phase with just one case of community transmission.

"This is, however, a rapidly evolving situation. Public health doctors are working hard to ensure our containment measures are operating effectively.

"This will need a national effort. Every individual needs to be aware of how to protect their own health and the health of others."

Irish Independent


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