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Harris: Using barracks to deal with COVID-19 outbreak 'a possibility'

The acting Health Minister Simon Harris has said the use of army barracks to deal with the COVID-...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.41 9 Mar 2020


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Harris: Using barracks to deal...

Harris: Using barracks to deal with COVID-19 outbreak 'a possibility'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.41 9 Mar 2020


Share this article


The acting Health Minister Simon Harris has said the use of army barracks to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak "are possibilities".

It comes as two new cases were confirmed here on Sunday - bringing the total to 21.

One case is a woman in the east of the country, another - a man in the south of the country - is a patient at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

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The hospital says the patient is being cared for in a single room and contact precautions have been in place since their arrival.

A new Cabinet subcommittee will meet later to discuss the outbreak.

Minister Harris told Newstalk Breakfast there needs to be a "whole of Government and whole of society approach."

"So we'll be looking at facilities that may not be owned by the health service, but could be owned by the State as well".

"I do need to add a degree of context to this to this: we're nowhere near this stage - at the moment we've 21 cases.

"And I do need to remind people - because I'm conscious that a lot people are worried - that over 80% of people who get this will experience a mild illness.

"So we do have to just keep a degree of context in this so as not to unnecessarily worry people as well".

On the upcoming St Patrick's Day celebrations, Mr Harris said a decision would be made in the next 24 to 48 hours.

"I think it's fair to say we've shown a willingness to cancel big events when the advice has told us so, including the series of rugby matches that were due to go ahead."

"I think it would be important that there's clarity within those next 24 to 48 hours one way or the other".

On the topic of cancelling flights from hotspots in Italy, he said this would be ineffective.

"Public health experts have said to me that acting unilaterally on this simply wouldn't be effective.

"If you actually banned a flight coming from northern Italy it might look like you're taking action - but the reality of the situation is people could just take a train to northern France and fly from there".


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Bon Secours Hospital Cabinet Subcommittee Cancelling Flights Coronavirus Covid-19 Government Newstalk Breakfast Simon Harris St Patrick's Day

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