A flu virus expert has said that policymakers will have difficult decisions to make in relation to Covid-19 in the coming weeks.
Dr Kim Roberts, influenza virus researcher and Assistant Professor of Virology at Trinity College Dublin, told Newstalk Breakfast that the country should expect more cases of the coronavirus.
Her comment came as a second case of the virus was confirmed in the east of the country. The patient is a woman who recently travelled back from Italy. This case is not associated with the previously identified case.
“It was always a case that we would have another, we should expect more, in some other countries the numbers infected with the virus are going up, and quite quickly,” Dr Roberts said.
“There is a balance that needs to be struck especially early on in an outbreak within a country, to make sure that information gets across in a way that can be absorbed and not create fear and panic.
“But we do need to explain to people that this situation is changing and that in all likelihood we will see more cases in Ireland, we will see clusters of cases probably within family groups, that’s what’s happening in other countries as well and we may see evidence of community transmission.
If we can act swiftly and decisively with identified cases, with identified people infected with this virus and they self-isolate and take that self-isolation seriously, we can reduce the spread.
“We can slow down the transmission so that our health services are not overstretched and that’s one of the key things. There’s a lot of discussion about how serious this situation is, we can’t give specifics about how many numbers it’s going to affect, we can only give the data – what the data is suggesting, but we do need to take it seriously.
“Policymakers have difficult decisions to make, I think we should expect that policy will change swiftly over the next few weeks, depending on what the evidence is saying about community transmission in Ireland and the UK.”
Department of Health officials, who said last night that they expect the number of isolated confirmed cases will increase further, were informed around 6pm of the second case.
Department of Health chief medical officer Tony Holohan later told reporters: “We’re confirming Ireland has diagnosed one new case of Covid-19.
“The case arises in a female in the east of the country and is associated with travel from northern Italy. We have now 397 people in total who have been tested as of Monday, March 2.”