There are now nine confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland
Four new cases of coronavirus, COVID-19, were confirmed in the west of Ireland late in the day on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland to six.
On March 4, Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) reported: “The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has this evening been informed of four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland.
“The patients are all associated with travel from the same affected area in Northern Italy.
“There are two male and two female patients, from the western part of the country.”
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, said: “Tonight we can confirm there are now six cases of COVID-19 in Ireland. Contact tracing is underway for these four new cases.”
Dr. Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “There is still no evidence of widespread or sustained community transmission in Ireland, as seen in some other EU countries.
“While we now have six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland, we continue our containment efforts, central to which is that the public know what to do in the event they have symptoms.”
The HSE says: “COVID-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person’s body fluids (for example, droplets from coughing or sneezing). It is also spread by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on, which is one of the reasons why it is so important that people wash their hands regularly, practice respiratory etiquette, and try to avoid touching their face.
“The general public is advised to follow advice from the HSE and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre to protect their health. Any person concerned that they may have symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) should immediately isolate themselves from others and contact their GP by phone.”
The HSE added that the Republic of Ireland remains in a “containment phase,” which means officials are taking actions to prevent or limit the spread of coronavirus. This is the same as all countries across Europe.
The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention says: “The risk associated with COVID-19 infection for people in the EU/EEA and UK is currently considered moderate to high.”
Dr. Holohan later spoke with RTE News, where he confirmed the four new cases were the first instance of a "cluster" in the Republic of Ireland:
WATCH: Interview with Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, after four cases of coronavirus are confirmed in west of Ireland | @CMOIreland | Read more: https://t.co/t8tU6sEAh0 https://t.co/tQipf3Ohso— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 4, 2020
Dr. Holohan separately said on Wednesday: “I’m going to be as clear as I can be about this because we have been asked it on a number of occasions.
“As things stand, and on the basis of our assessments on the risks to this country, we see no implications for the St Patrick’s Day parade.”
"As things stand, we don’t envisage that situation changing. On the other hand; this is a fast-moving national and international situation."
New coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland
Also on Wednesday, two new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to three confirmed cases in the region.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health said in a statement: “The two cases are not connected. One individual recently travelled from Northern Italy. The other had recent contact with a person elsewhere in the UK who has subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.”
As per protocol, the presumptive positive tests have been sent to Public Health England laboratories for verification.
Queen’s University in Belfast issued a statement that one of the cases confirmed on Wednesday affects its community:
"We have been informed by the Public Health Agency of a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) within our University community. We are working closely with the authorities to ensure that the individual receives the best care.
"We are now working with the Public Health Agency to trace anyone who has been in contact with the infected individual to ensure they are supported to receive medical attention if required and to take all appropriate steps to contain any further spread of the virus and protect the welfare of all within the wider University community.
"The University is open and operating as normal. Please continue to refer to this FAQs page and the latest official advice and guidance from the Public Health Agency and other statutory bodies."