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Cork braces for breakout

Wednesday, 4th March, 2020 5:00pm

Contingency plans are being put in place around Cork as the threat of a potential coronavirus outbreak draws nearer.
This week the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) confirmed the risk of widespread sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the EU and UK in the coming weeks as moderate to high.
This was followed by an announcement yesterday by the National Ambulance Service that they will now be expanding their response to COVID-19 by providing home testing where necessary.
Ireland currently remains in a containment phase with two confirmed cases in the country so far.
Earlier this week staff in Google’s EU headquarters in Dublin were told to work from home when a staff member was reported to have flu-like symptoms.
A number of businesses and other organisations in Cork have already begun to make plans for how they will respond to a potential outbreak.
In a statement released to the Cork Independent, a spokesperson for customer experience and technical support centre Voxpro, located in Mahon, said that, although the company is currently not aware of any threat to its team, it is taking “proactive steps” to ensure the safety of its employees.
The statement read: “Our dedicated Emergency Management and Operations Committee (EMOC) continues to monitor the situation closely and ensure we are ready to take action quickly to address any developments that arise.”
Meanwhile Cork City Council has said that preparations for St Patrick’s Day are still going ahead as planned, but that the priority must be for the health and safety of those who attend the event.
“As the international coronavirus outbreak is evolving rapidly, we will await the guidance of the expert sub group which has been set up by National Public Health Emergency Team to develop criteria for the risk assessment of mass gatherings,” a statement from the council read.
Iarnród Éireann, Ireland’s national rail service, has also taken precautionary measures in an attempt to minimise the spreading of the coronavirus, of which there are now more than 90,000 confirmed cases worldwide. 
Of the 94,200 cases, 51,187 have made a full recovery.
A spokesperson for the service said: “We have increased resources and have put in place disinfecting cleaning at stations, trains and depots at turnarounds and overnight, focusing on surfaces with which customers and staff are most regularly in contact.”
Following the identification of Ireland’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Dublin on 29 February, a secondary school has been closed for the duration of the COVID-19 incubation period, which is 14 days.
A letter from the Chief Medical Officer to parents of all schoolchildren across the country was subsequently issued.
Yesterday, Seán Kelly MEP urged EU institutions and leaders to prioritise public health concerns first and foremost, but also to be mindful of the economic impact coronavirus may have on small to medium sized businesses and farmers.
The Ireland South MEP made the comments as possible coordinated economic measures to support and boost the European economy are being considered at a European level.
 

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