Risk of contracting COVID-19 without travel to affected regions "extremely low"

The country’s Chief Medical Officer has said the risk of contracting the coronavirus in Ireland...
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

08.02 4 Mar 2020

Share this article

Risk of contracting COVID-19 w...

Risk of contracting COVID-19 without travel to affected regions "extremely low"

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

08.02 4 Mar 2020

Share this article

The country’s Chief Medical Officer has said the risk of contracting the coronavirus in Ireland without travelling to an affected country remains “extremely low.”

Dr Tony Holohan was speaking after a second case of COVID-19 was diagnosed here.

The female patient is based in the east of the country and had recently returned from northern Italy.


She is now being cared for in isolation and the HSE is running contact tracing to identify the people she was in contact with before her diagnosis.

Dr Holohan said the risk of infection spreading in Ireland is low.

“We don’t think it is likely,” he said.

“We think that the message is getting through to the public about the vigilance they need to have around symptoms – particularly if they have come back from an affected area.

“We have no reason to believe there is community transmission we are unaware of.

“So, we can continue to be able to assure people that the risk of an individual in this country today picking up this infection in the community in Ireland is extremely low.”

Coronavirus COVID-19 The Minister for Education Joe McHugh with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris delivering a COVID-19 update, 03-03-2020. Image: RollingNews

Meanwhile, Irish people are being advised against all non-essential travel to four regions in Italy – Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna or Piedmont.

The advice previously only applied to the 11 towns in those regions.

Guidelines on mass gatherings will be issued in the coming days, but the Department of Health expects the St Patrick's Day celebrations to go ahead.

The HSE has issued a range of advice for people concerned about the coronavirus with separate guidelines for those who are experiencing symptoms and those who are not.

Dr Holohan is warning the public to trust official sources for their information on the virus.

“So, just to be clear, social media is not a place to go for information to rely upon in terms of what to do; to go to for information about the nature of this particular illness, how one should respond etc,” he said.

“There are trusted sources of information. We continue to direct people to which is a one-stop-shop if I can call it that, of information that covers every eventuality and has links to the HPSE website and the guidance and so on.”

Coronavirus COVID-19 Tourists wear protective masks to avoid transmission of coronavirus as they stroll the Champs Elysees, 02-03-2020. Image: Alain Apaydin/ABACAORESS.COM


Meanwhile, the HSE is now moving to a community-based model of testing for the virus in Ireland.

“More likely than not it will be done in the person’s home,” said Dr Holohan.

“The ambulance service personnel, who will be trained, will travel out to conduct the test under guidance.”

Almost 400 tests for COVID 19 have been done in the past week with only two positive.

Coronavirus COVID-19 A tourist in the Piazza Duomo in Milan during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, 02-03-2020. Image: Claudio Furlan - LaPresse/Sipa USA

Around the world, there have now been over 90,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – the vast majority in mainland China.

There have been over 5,000 cases in South Korea, over 2,500 in Italy and over 2,300 in Iran.

Over 3,000 people have died as a result of the virus so far.

Meanwhile, sales of hand sanitisers soared by 255% in the UK last month.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom has warned that the global stockpiling of medical equipment like masks and gowns is having an impact.

“The WHO has shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment between seven countries but supplies are rapidly depleting,” he said.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Rows of hand sanitizer are seen empty at a Walgreens in Idaho Falls, Idaho, 28-02-2020. Image: John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register


The British Government has launched a new public information campaign on the virus – urging people to wash their hands.

Meanwhile, the NHS has increased the illness to its highest priority level and launched a specialist team and coordination centre to manage the outbreak.

The HSE is urging anyone who has been to one of seven coronavirus-affected areas in the past two weeks and is experiencing symptoms of the virus to phone their local GP or Emergency Department without delay.

If you are feeling well, you are advised to carry on with your normal routine.

People are urged to contact the HSE on 1850 24 1850 if they think they have been in contact with a coronavirus patient or if they were at a healthcare facility in another country where coronavirus patients are being treated.

Share this article

Read more about

Coronavirus Covid-19 Health Hse Tony Holohan

Most Popular