From The Irish Independent.
The first death of a coronavirus patient in Ireland has been confirmed this evening.
This comes as the World Health Organisation has declared that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic.
The woman who contracted the virus has died in a hospital in the east of the country.
She is understood to have had underlying illness and was treated in hospital initially for respiratory problems.
The woman, who is believed to have been in the older age group, had been very ill for days but sadly now has passed away.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan extended his sympathies to the woman’s loved ones.
He said in a statement: “I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of this patient.
“I urge the media and the public to respect their privacy at this difficult time.
“We continue our efforts to interrupt the transmission of this virus. It will take all of us, collectively to succeed. Please continue to follow public health advice.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who heads the UN agency, said the WHO is “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity” of the outbreak.
He also expressed concern about “the alarming levels of inaction”.
“We have, therefore, made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic”, he said at a briefing in Geneva.
“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people in the response,” Mr Tedros said.
The Department of Health said on Tuesday evening that 34 people in the Republic had been confirmed as positive with the virus.
Since then it has emerged a man has tested positive for the virus in University Hospital Waterford bringing the total to 35.
A briefing by Dr Holohan this evening will reveal if it has increased further following the results of the most recent batch of tests.
The woman who died is among three patients who picked up the virus through community transmission where the source is not known.
The new coronavirus can affect older people and those with certain health conditions more severely.
Just like the regular winter flu, respiratory viruses are more severe in older people.
As people age their immune system ages and is less effective.
Underlying conditions and generally weaker constitutions and immune systems mean that respiratory viruses are harder on older groups.
People with existing illnesses like blood pressure, heart disorders, diabetes, liver disorders, and respiratory disease also have lower defences and are more at risk of developing severe symptoms.
Another patient who contracted the virus at a Cork hospital is also understood to be very ill with underlying illness.
The health service is grappling with the cancellation of hundreds of surgeries and outpatient appointments.
A number of other events were scrapped, from festivals to charity fundraisers, and Trinity College Dublin shut its lecture halls with a move to online learning.
The Department of Education moved to issue a statement scotching rumours it was about to order the closure of all schools.
Contingency planning around the greater spread of coronavirus into school communities is being stepped up.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has written to schools urging them to ensure they have up to date contact details for parents, and that they are in a position to share it with public health authorities.
The sharing of information is essential for effective contact tracing in the event that a case of Covid-19 is detected, but it has to comply with GDPR regulations around the sharing of personal data.
In a letter to principals last night, Dr Holohan acknowledged that it was “understandable that anxieties and fears built up around the emergence of a new disease.”
He warned that these factors “can also give rise to harmful stereotypes”, but insisted that the response to the evolving situation must be “proportionate, necessary and based on special public health advice”.
Dr Holohan repeated that schools should not take unilateral decisions to close and gave an assurance to public health professionals would contact them if any action was needed.
The letter came in the wake of a flurry of activity on social media in recent days that a decision had been taken not to reopen schools after St Patrick’s Day. No such decision has been taken, although that could change, and with little warning.
The Chief Medical Officer referred to the closure of a number of schools last week, following decisions made “on public health grounds after thorough risk assessments deemed it appropriate”.
The schools were asked to close for 14 days in order to prevent the possible spread of infection, while public health officials engaged in a contact tracing process.
Apart from those cases, “all other schools will remain open” Dr Holohan said, although Health Minister Simon Harris has acknowledged that the time may come when schools will close.
Other drastic measures included a cinema chain announcing every second seat would be left empty, and new guidelines for wedding ceremonies.
Banks may allow their mortgage customers to defer monthly repayments if the coronavirus causes massive economic disruption.
The confirmed number of people struck by the infection shot up to 35, in the biggest rise seen in a single day since the virus hit Ireland.
It was revealed this morning that a man has tested positive for the new coronavirus in University Hospital Waterford.
The man is understood to have been in hospital for some time.
A floor of the hospital, the Dunmore wing which has single rooms, has been screened off to care for patients with confirmed or suspected infection.
It is understood the Waterford case will be included in the latest number of positive patients to be released later today.
Other cases include two healthcare workers – one in the south and another in the east. However, none of the newly diagnosed cases was infected through community transmission. There has been a surge of 1,387 tests in the past week alone.