CONTRACTORS are working around-the-clock to convert a disused building on the northside of the city into an isolation unit for coronavirus patients.
The HSE has stepped up preparations for an expected increase in Covid-19 cases, following further confirmation today of the virus spreading through the community.
Builders have been on-site at the St Mary's health campus in Gurranabraher all weekend, working to refurbish the idle Grove House into a spillover unit for patients.
The building was formerly used to provide services for people with intellectual disabilities but was shut several years ago.
Builders are now working overtime to ensure it is ready, if needed, as a base for virus patients.
New insulation, new doors, and paint works are all required before it can be re-opened.
A second unit on the campus is expected to become a swab centre where people can go to get tested for the virus if they are feeling unwell.
The HSE has conceded that budgets will have to be stretched for overtime work and other spending to tackle the virus.
Health experts have raised concerns there may not be enough isolation space in hospitals and plans are being formulated to create extra units in towns and cities.
HSE chiefs are examining empty units in several Cork towns that can potentially be converted into covid-19 centres.
Two more cases of coronavirus were confirmed today, bringing the total number in the State to 21.
Cork's Bon Secours Hospital confirmed a case of Covid-19 in a male patient who is understood to have an underlying health condition.
The latest diagnosis was another case of 'community transmission', meaning the virus is spreading from person to person within Ireland.
Another case of community transmission, a woman in the east of Ireland, was also confirmed today.
In a statement, Bon Secours hospital management said: "The patient is being cared for in a single room and contact precautions have been in place since the patient’s arrival. To protect patient privacy, we will make no further comment on the case.
"Coronavirus response teams have been in place at the Bon Secours Health System for some time, with working groups at each facility and at group level.
A risk assessment is underway and the HSE says it is working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients may have had.
Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer with the Department of Health, said: "Every individual needs to be aware of how to protect their own health and the health of others.
"The most important way they can do this is by following public health advice.
"Central to this are the protective measures we can all take against Covid-19, which include; washing your hands regularly with soap and water; maintaining at least one metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing/sneezing; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth."
Earlier today, HSE chief executive Paul Reid told RTÉ that some of the almost 100 staff at Cork University Hospital told to self-isolate last week after confirmation of a case of coronavirus in CUH will be returning to work.
Mr Reid said the staff who return would not be symptomatic and would be regularly tested and assessed.
He said the staff would need to return as there was a necessity to balance containment measures and the need to keep the health system functioning at a time when more confirmed cases are expected.
Meanwhile, the HSE has said it cannot dispute projections that 1.9 million people in the Republic of Ireland may fall ill with coronavirus.