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Mater Hospital to be Belfast base in fight against coronavirus

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The Mater Hospital in north Belfast.

The Mater Hospital in north Belfast.

The Mater Hospital in north Belfast.

The Mater Hospital is set to be the main treatment centre for patients affected by the coronavirus in Belfast.

The BBC has reported that wards at the Crumlin Road hospital have been identified and preparations are ongoing for the treatment of seriously ill patients.

After five new cases were detected on Sunday there are currently 12 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland with 21 in the Republic of Ireland.

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There are currently 280 confirmed cases in the UK with three deaths linked to the virus.

The Belfast Trust said it was working to prepare hospitals in the area to deal with coronavirus.

"Belfast Trust like all trusts is planning to provide care for the number of positive Covid-19 patients who may need hospital care in the coming weeks," a spokesperson said.

“These arrangements will involve identifying wards and units and prioritising care for the sickest patients. The Trust is looking how best to do this across all acute sites including the Mater Hospital.

“The Trust has accessed more personal protective equipment to further augment the stocks we already have.”

It’s understood plans are being made to care for coronavirus patients with weakened immune systems at special isolation units in the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH).

Most of Northern Ireland’s cases are currently self-isolating at home, but the BBC has reported that two patients were being treated in the RVH on Saturday.

Meanwhile concerns have been expressed around how coronavirus will affect Northern Ireland’s homeless population.

Belfast councillor Paul McCusker has written to Health Minister Robin Swann requesting guidance on the support available.

The SDLP councillor asked for specific guidance on how rough sleepers can be expected to self-isolate or how they can regularly wash their hands.

“There is serious concern among those providing support to our homeless population about the impact of a coronavirus outbreak on these vulnerable people with underlying health conditions,” Councillor McCusker said.

“The Department of Health needs to set out a plan for appropriate health checks for rough sleepers and those staying in hostel accommodation as well as an accommodation plan to fulfil the self-isolation protocol.

“We need to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected from an outbreak.”

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Simon Harris said the country’s health service will not be found wanting in its resources to tackle the outbreak (Brian Lawless/PA)

Simon Harris said the country’s health service will not be found wanting in its resources to tackle the outbreak (Brian Lawless/PA)

Simon Harris said the country’s health service will not be found wanting in its resources to tackle the outbreak (Brian Lawless/PA)

Speaking on Monday the Republic of Ireland’s health minister Simon Harris said the coronavirus outbreak in the country will become “very serious”, adding there is a moderate to high risk it could follow in similar ways as experienced in other European nations.

He said it will require a whole of government and whole of society approach to deal with the escalation in coronavirus cases.

Mr Harris said the country’s health service will not be found wanting in its resources to tackle the outbreak.

He said health experts are still considering whether or not St Patrick’s Day celebrations will go ahead and a decision will be made in the next 48 hours.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was to chair a new Cabinet sub-committee meeting on Covid-19 on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph