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Ireland remains in Covid-19 containment phase – health chief

Health Minister Simon Harris said it was ‘really important that schools do not act unilaterally’ when it comes to new cases of Covid-19.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Health Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Health Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

The head of Ireland’s health service has said the Republic of Ireland remains in a containment phase in relation to Covid-19.

Health Service Executive chief executive officer Paul Reid told a press briefing on Thursday it would be a challenge to maintain this and the health service was preparing for further phases as there has been sustained transmission of the disease in other European countries.

Mr Reid said: “We must ensure that there is not a level of panic among the public but we also must warn against complacency.

“We need the public to act and to treat this seriously and to act on all of the advice that we are giving.”

It is really important that schools do not act unilaterally and that schools take the opportunity to hear from the public health authorities.Simon Harris

“We are still in a containment phase but our experience has shown that this does move quickly to a further phase and we need the public to heed our advice we are giving.”

Health Minister Simon Harris has said schools or businesses should not close unless they are told to do so by health officials.

Mr Harris has said that schools in the west of the country connected to the four new cases of Covid-19 are currently deciding on whether they should close or not.

Mr Harris said new cases will impact on schools in a variety of ways, and he added that contact tracing on the four new cases is ongoing.

The cases confirmed last night involve two male and two female patients and they are now being treated in hospital.

Mr Harris said schools need to follow the advice of health authorities and it was important that schools did not act unilaterally.

He said: “There will not be a one size fits all solution for all schools as this situation unfolds.

“Those schools need to follow the advice of the public health authorities. There may be different scenarios for different schools and this may happen to a number of schools in the coming days and weeks. It may mean that an event in the school would have to be cancelled.

“It is really important that schools do not act unilaterally and that schools take the opportunity to hear from the public health authorities.”

He said people who are generally healthy, do not need to be unduly concerned about the spread of Covid-19.

He added: “I don’t want people to be unduly concerned about this particularly for those of us who are generally healthy and well.

“Getting a virus can be an unpleasant experience and it can require that you stay at home and be self-isolated but most people recover very well from this.”

There are six confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Republic of Ireland, as well as three in Northern Ireland – bringing the total number of cases on the island to nine.

PA