Harris addresses Dail on Coronavirus

Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Minister Simon Harris addressed the Dail to update it on the Health Service’s work to tackle the arrival of the Coronavirus in Ireland

Minister Harris said:

“This is a time of national and international challenge and it does require us all to pull together. I know that currently in Ireland a lot of people are worried and concerned. I know that parents in particular are receiving a lot of information and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, what is appropriate and what is not.”

“I strongly encourage all people to take their advice from public health doctors, to listen to doctors and medical experts, to follow the HSE advice and, crucially, to trust public health doctors who have one sole focus, that is, to contain this virus and protect people.”

“It is important to know that the vast majority of people who contract this virus will not need hospital care but can be treated at home. Some people believe that everybody who gets this virus will require hospitalisation, but that is not the case.”

“I reassure Deputies of the considerable effort being undertaken in my Department, led by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, and by the HSE and its public health experts, to contain and respond to this serious public health threat and to mitigate the consequences across society. As people are aware, Covid-19 poses a very serious public health threat, not just here in Ireland but across the globe.”

“Public health authorities have activated all appropriate contact-tracing protocols. I signed the Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Regulations 2020 on Thursday, 20 February in order to make provision for Covid-19 to be added to the list of notifiable diseases so doctors who are at the front line of our response to the virus will be obliged to notify the HSE when a case is suspected or diagnosed and will be able to take appropriate action to respond to the very serious public health threat posed by the Covid-19 virus.”

“None of the patients has been named publicly by the Department of Health or HSE, nor will they ever be, in order to protect patient confidentiality. This is essential to ensure all members of the public that they can have confidence that their privacy will be protected should they wish to report any matters to our health service. In fact, an effort not to protect this privacy, particularly on social media, has been rather disgusting and despicable. We need people to come forward when they have symptoms, to identify themselves and co-operate with our public health service. Anything that lessens trust or confidence is not helping in terms of containing the virus here or globally.”

“I would also like to take the opportunity to inform the House of a few issues arising beyond the health sector. In doing so, it is worth pointing out that the websites of Departments and agencies are being updated regularly as the situation evolves. For anybody considering travel to other countries, the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs provides travel advice, which is updated as the need arises. The Government is monitoring the situation with our agencies, ports and airports. Airports and sea ports are following the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team and are in continual direct liaison with the HSE through the port health group.”

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