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‘Europe must work together’ on Covid-19 – Harris

Outgoing Minister for Health Simon Harris has today attended an emergency meeting of the European Health Ministers in Brussels today.

Ministers discussed the ongoing disease outbreak caused by Covid-19, and the effects on health services. Ministers heard from the World Health Organisation, the European Centre for Disease Control and the European Medicines Agency about ongoing efforts in containing the virus and the appropriate responses.

Speaking today (6 March), Minister Harris said: “Ireland remains in the containment phase. While countries are in different situations, it is vital we work together.

“We are better protected if we work together on this. We need rational, coherent decision- making based on science and public health.

“It is clear this virus is going to have an impact for a prolonged period of time. It is essential we plan ahead, protect our healthcare workers and do our best to provide accurate, evidence based and timely information to our people.”

Minister Harris added: “Public communications is an important focus in our response. Europe must act together to stop the spread of misinformation about this virus.

“Those who spread such lies are increasing the stigma attached to this virus. They are endangering lives and they are stopping us from doing our jobs. Our public health doctors should lead our response to this matter.”

Yesterday, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has this evening been informed of seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

Four are travel related from Northern Italy, four males from the east country

·        Two are associated with close contact with a confirmed case, two females in the west of the country

·        One case of community transmission, a male from the south of the country, is associated with Cork University Hospital and a risk assessment is underway

There are now 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

A further update is expected shortly on the outbreak.

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