31/01/2020

Concern As UK Coronavirus Cases Confirmed

Concern is growing as two cases of coronavirus are confirmed in the UK.

The patients, who are both from the same family, were diagnosed as the World Health Organisation declared a public health emergency of international concern.

The development has sparked calls for local Health Minister Robin Swann to intensify his engagement with health authorities in the Republic of Ireland.

Sinn Fein MLA Colm Gildernew said the news is a "worrying development".

"There is an increased responsibility and onus on both Ministers of Health on this island, and their relevant authorities, to work closely together to avoid Coronavirus coming to Ireland, and to mitigate its impact across the country if it does," the Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said.

"I have had contact with the department this morning with regards to the changed situation in Britain.
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"I will continue to engage with the Department of Health and emphasise the necessity of an all-island response to Coronavirus."

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride joined his UK counterparts to issue a statement after the global health emergency was declared.

"In light of the increasing number of cases in China and using existing and widely tested models, the four UK Chief Medical Officers consider it prudent for our governments to escalate planning and preparation in case of a more widespread outbreak," they said.

"For that reason, we are advising an increase of the UK risk level from low to moderate. This does not mean we think the risk to individuals in the UK has changed at this stage, but that government should plan for all eventualities.

"As we have previously said, it is likely there will be individual cases and we are confident in the ability of the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales and HSC in Northern Ireland to manage these in a way that protects the public and provides high quality care."



(JG/CM)

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