Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.49 20 Mar 2020


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The chief clinical officer with the Health Service Executive (HSE) says every single person can take an action that will save lives.

Almost 200 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed here on Thursday.

But Dr Colm Henry told Newstalk Breakfast they were expecting a jump in the number of coronavirus cases.

"We were expecting a jump in figures because the modelling internationally, and the learning which we're accruing day by day from other countries, shows that you can expect an increase up to 30% day on day.

"But I'd like to remind listeners too... that we have expanded testing out greatly.

"It's only a few weeks ago, it seems like years ago, we were testing small numbers of people that were being [brought] into hospital.

"Since then, we've set up 26 testing centres around the country... that means a big expansion in our testing capacity - and of course, we've lowered the bar for testing."

He explained: "Now we're testing anybody who has a new onset cough or a fever."

"The jump in figures reflects something we're expecting".

Dr Henry has asked people to heed advice for the sake of everyone's health.

"Every single person can take an action that will save lives, that will save people getting critically sick, that will prevent people being admitted to acute hospitals, that will prevent healthcare workers having to go on leave at a time when you need them.

"Don't just stand there waiting for the next figures, worrying - comply with the social distancing completely, wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your sleeve and wash your hands after.

"All those measures... you comply with them, every single time somebody does that they save lives - and I really believe that".

But he warned: "Anyone who thinks they're immune from this disease are wrong.

"The median age at which people get this is 43 - that means there's lots of people younger than that who are getting it.

"Our principal strategy against this surely is social solidarity".

And he said more action may still need to be taken.

"If we see patterns emerging, as happened in northern Italy and as happened in parts of China, we may well have to take further steps".


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