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Expert: We should 'expect cases' of coronavirus in Ireland

An expert in virology has praised the HSE for its handling of preparations for the corona virus.

Dr Kim Roberts, Leader of Virology at the Department of Microbiology in Trinity College Dublin told RTÉ Radio that Ireland that the HSE’s advice “is fantastic” and it will help in stopping the spread of the infection.

The advice is about slowing down transmission of the virus, she said. This will mean longer exposure, but avoidance of a high peak.

The HSE has to prepare for the possible spread of the virus and to plan to ensure the impacts is lessened, she explained.

Dr Roberts said she hoped that levels of the virus had peaked in China, but this is unknown as yet. It was inevitable that there would eventually be a case in Ireland.

It’s only a matter of time, we should prepare for and expect cases to arrive here and plan to make the impact as less as possible.

As the virus is spread by close contact, it made sense to reduce the incidents of large groups of people gathering together such as the Ireland v Italy rugby game. Apart from cancelling such events, it was also likely that turn out would be smaller if events went ahead, because of public concern, she said.

The HSE plans should help slow down the spread of the virus which will give medical services time to prepare and treat patients.

Self containment is effective, she said and where possible the person should also isolate themselves from their family to protect them.

Washing hands is an important preventative measure, said Dr Roberts. Hands should be washed in either soap and water or anti bacterial liquid for at least 20 seconds. “That mechanism makes a big difference," she said.

Earlier: Ibec say virus won't have major impact on economy

Ibec says it doesn't expect the coronavirus to have a major impact on the Irish economy.

The business group is anticipating growth in GDP of almost 4% this year in its latest economic outlook.

"We'll look back on this period in 12 months time and I don't think we'll notice in any material way that the virus disrupted the economy," said Fergal O'Brien from Ibec.

"Right now, definitely, it is having an impact on some businesses, there is no doubt about that. We see it in some of the supply chain issues, we're going to see it in some sectors of the economy.

We expect this to be a relatively short-felt impact but we think there'll be a catch-up when we return to normality.

Meanwhile, the outbreak has now spread to every continent apart from Antarctica.

The World Health Organisation has said, for the first time, that the virus is now growing at a faster rate outside of China.

In Ireland, the HSE is stepping up its campaign on the virus.

Posters, leaflets and HSE staff will be at ports and airports over the coming weeks.

- Additional reporting Digital Desk