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Ten new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Ireland

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Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer during a media update at the Department of Health on the confirmed case of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer during a media update at the Department of Health on the confirmed case of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer during a media update at the Department of Health on the confirmed case of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Ten more people have tested positive for coronavirus - the highest daily toll so far.

It brings to 34 the number of confirmed cases in the Republic.

None of the new cases were due to community transmission, which is the most worrying route.

But two are healthcare workers, one is a man based in the south of the country and the other is a woman in the east.

Five of the cases, which are in the east and south of the country, are associated with travel from an affected area.

Two people in the west and another in the south have rested positive for coronavirus and are associated with close contact with confirmed cases.

The HSE said that as of yesterday 1,784 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Ireland, an increase of 1,387 tests in one week.

A HSE spokesperson said they are rapidly working to identify anyone who may have had contact with the patients in a bid to prevent coronavirus spreading further here.

This comes just hours after the Irish Cancer Society has cancelled its main fund raising event Daffodil Day due to the coronavirus risk.

Chief executive Averil Power said the decision was taken to cancel Daffodil Day street collections and events that were scheduled for March 27.

She said: ”We have made this decision to protect the health and well being of our patients, volunteers and supporters.

“We also want to focus all our energies on providing cancer patients and their families with the information, advice and support they need at this time.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has moved to scotch rumours that a decision has been made to close schools.

The statement today is a response to reports circulating widely on social media that schools would not re open after St Patrick's Day.

A spokesperson said the Department was liaising closely with the Department of Health on a continuing basis.

"Any decision to close schools will be made on public health advice. There is no such advice at this point", the spokesperson said.

It repeated that it was "essential that any decisions regarding responses to Covid-19 are proportionate, necessary and based on specific public health advice. No other response is appropriate."

It added that public health professionals will contact schools if there is any action to be taken and that schools should not take unilateral action.

The spokesperson said it was deeply conscious of the significance of decisions concerning school closures, and the potential impact any such decisions would have on parents, families and the wider community.

"This is an evolving situation and the health advice is being updated on a daily basis. The Departments of Education and Health will continue to work closely together on this issue ."

While transport operators have noticed a 5pc decrease in passenger numbers in recent weeks.

"The Authority has engaged with all operators(*) and is continually monitoring the public transport landscape in respect of the COVID-19 outbreak," a spokesperson for the National Transport Authority said.

"We are actively engaged with Senior Health officials and all operators will continue to follow whatever advice we are given to assist us in dealing with COVID-19.

"Overall public transport has seen a reduction in passenger numbers by some operators estimated at approximately 5%. The Authority will continue to monitor transport patterns and will respond with the operators.

"Business Continuity plans are in place and will be enacted in a way that is proportionate to the situation as it evolves. Any actions that are taken will be guided by the National Public Health Emergency Team and the advice of the Chief Medical Officers.

"The Authority and transport operators have displayed the public information posters across the transport network to assist in disseminating public health messages.

Meanwhile, Trinity College Dublin is closing its lecture halls and other key buildings in the face of the growing threat from coronavirus.

In a drastic response to the spread of Covid-19, the university has announced that lectures will cease from today, and will be delivered online from 9am tomorrow until the end of the academic year.

However, tutorials, seminars and laboratory practicals, which involve smaller numbers, will continue to be given in the usual fashion.

No decisions have been made on arrangements for annual exams, which take place in about five weeks and involve about 1,000 students a day sitting in the RDS, Ballsbridge.

The world-famous, city centre university also closed Book of Kells exhibition and Old Library, the Science Gallery and the Douglas Hyde Gallery, with immediate effect.

Notices of the closures of the public attractions were posted online and at the main entrances to the college today.

The Book of Kells, regarded as Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure , now attracts more than one million visitors each year, mainly from the US.

While the action falls short of full closure, Trinity is the first Irish higher education institution to announce such a wind-down in campus activities, which goes well beyond the advice of the Government.

In continuing to deliver teaching in tutorials, laboratories and seminars, social distancing protocols will be used in these small group settings to minimise any risk of spreading the virus

“This will allow Trinity to maintain continuity of teaching and learning while minimising the need to bring together students in large groups” the university has advised students and staff today.

”This will slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but further measures may be necessary and these arrangements will be kept under continuous review.

Trinity said the measures were being taken in the interests of the health and well-being of students and staff and to decrease any potential impacts on the larger community.

“The decisions are based on the concept of social distancing which has been recommended by many experts. Our goal is to decrease the number of instances that lead to students, staff, and visitors coming together in large groups in close proximity with each other.

In its statement to students and staff, the college said it recognised that “teaching is one of Trinity’s great strengths and that the decision regarding academic activities will be inconvenient to many of you but we must recognise that COVID-19 presents a very serious threat to the health and well-being of all in the Trinity community.

“Further actions may be needed. The well-being of everybody in our college community is our number one priority.”

Anyone who is unsure about what constitutes a lecture has been advised to consult their timetable and, if they are still unsure, should consult their school or course co-ordinator.

No decisions have been made on arrangements for exams, which take place in about five weeks and involve about 1,000 students a day sitting in the RDS, Ballsbridge.

Trinity College was hit with a case of coronavirus last week, although the person involved is understood to have made a good recovery and , while that may have concentrated minds, universities elsewhere have also cancelled face to face classes.

Meanwhile Dublin City University (DCU) has announced the postponement of its Spring graduation ceremonies, scheduled for March 21

DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said the decision was taken following the careful consideration of a range of factors associated with the evolving COVID19 situation, both nationally and internationally.

“As this event would have involved significant travel for graduates and their families, the University considers that it is in the best interests of all concerned that this non-critical event is postponed.

He added that the university was prioritising the deployment of resources for the development of contingency plans associated with potential changes in the delivery and assessment of academic programmes over the coming weeks and months, in the event of a curtailment or suspension of normal academic activities.

This comes as Omniplex Cinemas announced they will implement ‘in-cinema seat separation’ as part of their measures to encourage effective Social Distancing in cinemas.

“Other measures include self-Scanning of tickets, increased cleaning regimes and hand sanitising stations in every cinema foyer,” a statement yesterday said.

“In-cinema seat separation is the cornerstone of the plan, whereby every second cinema seat will be unoccupied in a checkerboard pattern.”

Mark Anderson, director of Omniplex Cinemas said it would give one metre separation between each guest, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for social distancing.

“By reducing our capacity by 50pc we hope to give cinemagoers peace of mind when attending the movies,” he said.

The cinema group is the largest on the island with more than 245 screens in 32 locations.

More to follow...

Online Editors


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