Latest Guidance on Public Health Measures

Published: 24 March 2020
From: Department of the Taoiseach

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that all non-essential retail outlets close to members of the public. All other retail outlets are to implement social distancing.

Cafés and restaurants are limited to takeaways and deliveries only. All sporting events are cancelled – including those behind closed doors.

All theatres, clubs, gyms, leisure centres and hair salons are to be shut.

Places of worship are to restrict numbers visiting and no unnecessary travel should take place in the country or overseas, now or during the Easter break.

The Taoiseach said people need to stay at home and only leave to:

  • go to work
  • go to the shops for essential supplies
  • care for others
  • exercise

Read more at www.gov.ie

Contractor from UK fined €100,000 following exposure of workers to asbestos during construction activity in Dublin city centre 

Monday 9th March 2020 

Today, Monday 9th March, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Melanie Greally imposed a fine of €100,000 on a UK-registered construction company following an earlier guilty plea to a charge under the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos Regulations) 2006 and 2010. 

The case arose following the exposure of a number of workers to asbestos fibres at a construction site under their control in Dublin. On 23rd June 2016, ceiling boards containing asbestos were taken down, broken up and thrown into large black bins, thereby generating asbestos containing dust.  An investigation by the Health and Safety Authority concluded that the workers involved in this activity were exposed to asbestos, a known carcinogen.  Mark Cullen, Chief Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority said, “Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to fatal diseases many years after exposure.  It is a key requirement of the 2006 and 2010 Asbestos Regulations that all employers, particularly in construction and demolition work involving older buildings, identify the presence of asbestos containing materials. This should be done in advance of any works commencing, thereby allowing appropriate measures to be implemented to prevent exposure to asbestos by workers or anyone else who could be affected.”

Read article at, https://www.hsa.ie/eng/news_events_media/news/ press_releases_2020/%E2%82%AC100_000_fine_handed_down _following_asbestos_exposure.html

© 2020 Health & Safety Authority

Fianna Fáil’s O’Callaghan supports national govt idea

By Sandra Hurley

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan has said that Fianna Fáil may have been too definitive in ruling out a government with Sinn Féin and said he would “go along” with the idea of a national government to deal with the coronavirus. 

Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon insisted a functioning government was in place and that there were daily meetings of the emergency committee dealing with coronavirus.

He said the Taoiseach would have no issue in talking to other leaders and there was already full dialogue between the Minister for Health and other health spokespeople. 

He also said that the Cabinet sub-committee dealing with Covid-19 would meet tomorrow to sign off on sick pay proposals and if emergency legislation was needed, the Dáil would reconvene.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said that nobody regarded the current “caretaker government” as the real government and she said she expected it would listen carefully to proposals from employers’ body Ibec and the Construction Industry Federation on sick pay plans.

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said there was an information deficit and party leaders needed to be called in to be involved in the information process and to understand the criteria for deciding on cancelling mass gatherings.

Read full article at:
https://www.rte.ie/news/politics/2020/0308/1120949-government-formation/

WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 5 March 2020

Good afternoon, and thank you once again for joining us in person and online. 

Today I want to start by saying thank you to all our colleagues in the media. As providers of information, you play a vital role in the response to COVID-19. 

The fight against rumours and misinformation is a vital part of the battle against this virus. We rely on you to make sure people have accurate information about the threat they face, and how to protect themselves and others. 

Now to the numbers. 

There is now a total of 95,265 reported cases of COVID-19 globally, and 3281 deaths. 

In the past 24 hours, China reported 143 cases. Most cases continue to be reported from Hubei province, and 8 provinces have not reported any cases in the last 14 days. 

Outside China, 2055 cases were reported in 33 countries. Around 80% of those cases continue to come from just three countries. 

We see encouraging signs from the Republic of Korea. The number of newly-reported cases appears to be declining, and the cases that are being reported are being identified primarily from known clusters. 

Although a few countries are reporting large numbers of cases, 115 countries have not reported any cases. 

21 countries have reported only one case. 

And 5 countries that had reported cases have not reported new cases in the past 14 days. 

The experience of these countries and of China continues to demonstrate that this is not a one-way street. 

This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government. 

We are calling on every country to act with speed, scale and clear-minded determination. 

Although we continue to see the majority of cases in a handful of countries, we are deeply concerned about the increasing number of countries reporting cases, especially those with weaker health systems. 

However, this epidemic is a threat for every country, rich and poor. As we have said before, even high-income countries should expect surprises. The solution is aggressive preparedness. 

We’re concerned that some countries have either not taken this seriously enough, or have decided there’s nothing they can do. 

We are concerned that in some countries the level of political commitment and the actions that demonstrate that commitment do not match the level of the threat we all face. 

This is not a drill. 

This is not the time to give up. 

This is not a time for excuses. 

This is a time for pulling out all the stops.

Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans.

These are plans that start with leadership from the top, coordinating every part of government, not just the health ministry – security, diplomacy, finance, commerce, transport, trade, information and more – the whole government should be involved.

Activate your emergency plans through that whole-government approach.

Educate your public, so that people know what the symptoms are and know how to protect themselves and others.

Increase your testing capacity.

Get your hospitals ready.

Ensure essential supplies are available.

Train your health workers to identify cases, provide careful and compassionate treatment, and protect themselves from infection.

If countries act aggressively to find, isolate and treat cases, and to trace every contact, they can change the trajectory of this epidemic.

If we take the approach that there’s nothing we can do, that will quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s in our hands.

WHO has published step-by-step guidelines for countries to develop their national action plans according to eight key areas, which are supported by detailed technical guidance.

We call on all countries to accelerate those plans, and we stand ready to work with them to do that.

More funding is being made available to support countries that need it, and that have plans in place.

As you know, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have both made funds available to stabilize health systems and mitigate the economic consequences of the epidemic, with a special focus on enabling access to critical supplies and equipment.

I had also a very fruitful discussion with the President of the African Development Bank.

This is funding that is available now to countries who need it, in line with WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.

These funds are essential for supporting the response now, but also for long-term preparedness.

Although COVID-19 presents an acute threat now, it is absolutely essential that countries do not lose this opportunity to strengthen their preparedness systems.

We know people are afraid, and that’s normal and appropriate.

That fear can be managed and moderated with accurate information. Today WHO has launched a new social media campaign called Be Ready for COVID-19, which urges people to be safe, smart and informed.

If you feel overwhelmed by fear, reach out to those around you. Find out what your community’s emergency response plans are, how you fit in and how you can help. 

There’s still a lot we don’t know, but every day we’re learning more, and we’re working around the clock to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. 

Ultimately, how deadly this virus will be depends not only on the virus itself, but on how we respond to it. 

This is a serious disease. It is not deadly to most people, but it can kill. 

We’re all responsible for reducing our own risk of infection, and if we’re infected, for reducing our risk of infecting others.

There’s something all of us can do to protect vulnerable people in our communities.

That’s why we keep talking about solidarity. 

This is not just a threat for individual people, or individual countries.

We’re all in this together, and we can only save lives together.

I thank you.

               

For further information see Health Service Executive at https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness.  

It has not previously been seen in humans.                                                   

This type of coronavirus is also known as SARS-CoV-2. 

It was previously known as 2019-nCov or novel coronavirus.                                                                                                                                          

Symptoms may include:   a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, fever (High Temperature) 

Coronavirus can also cause more severe illness including: pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome,  kidney failure                                                                                                              

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.                                                                                                                

You could get the virus if you:

  • come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing
  • touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on
  • Because it’s a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person.                                                          
  • We do not know if someone can spread the virus before they show symptoms.
  • The virus may only survive a few hours if someone who has it coughs or sneezes on a surface.                                                       
  • Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant.

Packages from affected countries: You cannot get coronavirus from packages or food that has come from China or elsewhere.     

There is no evidence that animals or animal products legally imported into the EU are a health risk due to coronavirus.

Protect yourself

Do

Wash your hands:

  • after coughing or sneezing
  • after toilet use
  • before eating
  • before and after preparing food
  • if your hands are dirty
  • if you have handled animals or animal waste
  • if you are in contact with a sick person, especially those with respiratory symptoms

Don’t

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • do not use a face mask if you feel well and do not have symptoms – there’s no evidence that using masks is of any benefit if you are not sick

You should use a face mask if you:

  • have or may have coronavirus
  • are in close contact with someone who has or may have coronavirus
  • are a healthcare worker in close contact with people who may have or have coronavirus

Self-isolate – when you may need to. You only need to isolate yourself from other people if you have symptoms of coronavirus and have in the last 14 days been: