No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Ireland, but authorities are preparing

The Irish government has pledged €500k to the World Health Organization after they requested some €610 million in funding to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Read More: Irish citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China to UK amid coronavirus outbreak

Regarding the allocation, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said: "The rapid spread of the coronavirus concerns us all.

"Ireland sends its deepest sympathies to those who have been affected and salutes the work of the dedicated health service professionals who are assisting those communities most impacted.

"While the virus is currently concentrated in China, the WHO assesses that it may spread further and is a particular concern in regions where health systems could quickly be overwhelmed. It is vital to take early, coordinated action to prevent further spread of the virus.

"Global health challenges require a coordinated global response.

"That is why Ireland is supporting the leadership role of the WHO through an allocation of €500,000 to its Strategic Response and Preparedness Plan.

"This will be used to support countries in preparing for and responding to the coronavirus."

As of February 6, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland, but The Echo reports that a patient who recently returned from China is being monitored in a Co Cork hospital.

Irish authorities are aiming to be prepared, and Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) has announced that from February 7, it will distribute personal protective equipment packs to around 3,000 GPs, public health doctors and clinics as part of coronavirus preparation measures in Ireland.

Dr. Cillian de Gascun, Chair of the new Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group in Ireland, said on RTE’s Morning Ireland that confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland “wouldn’t be unexpected,” but went on to note the extremely low levels of confirmed cases in nations with far larger populations than Ireland.

“We also don’t have direct connections … we don’t have direct flights [to and from China.] I think 99 percent of cases are still in China.”

“It’s important for us to be prepared, I think we need to wait and see what happens over the next week or two.”

Read More: Coronavirus concerns for the Irish as Chinese epidemic continues

“Not a Chinese disease”

Also on Thursday, HSE Assistant National Director Dr. Kevin Kelleher reminded the public that coronavirus is “not a Chinese disease.”

Dr. Kelleher told reporters: “It is very inappropriate to be using that, and using that in a derogatory way, and using that to discriminate against people.

“It is about people who have returned from China. And that is nationals of this country, other European countries, and some Chinese nationals, but it is not a Chinese disease. And that has great potential to cause people not to come forward as a consequence if that goes on, and that degree of prejudice exists.

“So I urge you all please make sure that we don’t use it that way. We really are trying to make sure we don’t miss a case.”

An update from the World Health Organization posted on February 6 said that there are more than 28,000 confirmed coronavirus cases across 25 countries, with the vast majority being in China. 565 people have so far died.

A notice shared on February 6 from the HSE said there are no confirmed cases in Ireland, but "if there is a case here, health professionals will try to contact anyone who has been in contact with the infected person. If you are not contacted, you are extremely unlikely to catch coronavirus. There is no evidence that you can get coronavirus from packages that have come from China or elsewhere.”

Read More: Patient receiving “precautionary” treatment for coronavirus at Belfast hospital