Apple workers staying home amid rubella and coronavirus fears

Apple workers staying home amid rubella and coronavirus fears

The Apple plant at Hollyhill on the northside of Cork City. 

Apple staff who are feeling unwell are working from home in Cork amid fears of further rubella cases and concerns over the coronavirus.

The Echo recently revealed that the first confirmed case of rubella in Ireland in 11 years had been discovered in a person who works at the Apple campus in Hollyhill, Cork.

Concerned Apple employees told The Echo they fear the illness could spread while a local GP warned of a possible outbreak.

Just days after Ireland saw its first confirmed case of the coronavirus Covid-19, The Echo learned that any Apple staff who are feeling unwell have not attended for work, instead choosing to work remotely.

While The Echo understands there has been no further cases of rubella or any case of Covid-19 on the Hollyhill campus, one staff member said there is an air of “unease” amid fears of more rubella cases.

“Any staff members feeling unwell are now just staying home, I think predominantly, due to the coronavirus scare but there does remain an unease around the building but no further development of rubella cases,” they said.

Apple confirmed they were liaising with the HSE on the issue and claimed the possibility of the illness spreading was low.

However, Dr Nick Flynn, a representative on the Cork HSE Immunisation Steering Group and a Cork GP, warned that with mumps and measles on the rise, the Cork public could be facing a potential rubella outbreak.

“If that person was infectious and they have been out and about around Cork, we could easily be looking at an outbreak,” he said.

“As a community, we don’t appear to have herd immunity when it comes to measles and mumps - mumps is spreading relatively easily and I’ve been seeing two or three cases a week and we see the same increase with measles every now and again as well.

“There’s no reason we couldn’t see a similar outbreak of rubella because that is included in the MMR vaccine and it should, in theory, have the same level of immunity as the other two.” Dr Flynn explained that the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine is effective in preventing these illnesses.

“However, it’s clear that the low immunisation levels are coming home to roost in that regard,” he said.

“The key message to get out there is to encourage parents to vaccinate their children as herd immunity is crucial,” he added.

The HSE said it has alerted anyone who may have been in contact with the individual who presented with the illness, and that it is in contact with GPs in the area.

Apple was contacted for comment.

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