UPDATE: Four people with coronavirus currently in isolation in University Hospital Limerick

UPDATE: Six cases of coronavirus currently in University Hospital Limerick

THE NUMBER of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in University Hospital Limerick has increased to four, it was confirmed this Friday morning. 

It is believed the latest two confirmed cases of the virus are linked to the original outbreak in the West of Ireland earlier this week involving a family of two adults and two children. 

It is believed that one of the parents in the group of four, a male, is a medical professional and had worked a shift in UHL's Emergency Department last Wednesday, February 26, between 10am and 2pm. 

A statement issued last night by the HSE confirmed that the two new cases in the West, two females, "are associated with close contact with a confirmed case."

Four individuals are understood to be in isolation at the hospital in Dooradoyle. 

In a press statement released before the two additional cases were confirmed this morning, a UHL spokesperson stated public health officials are "rapidly" working to identify and contact those who had any possible contact with the individual during said time. 

"UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid West Community Healthcare can confirm they are working closely with public health colleagues in tracing contacts of four confirmed cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)," the statement reads. 

"These patients are currently isolated in hospital and receiving appropriate care. The cases were confirmed on March 4 and public health are now working rapidly to identify any contacts this small cluster may have had in the days prior to this positive result. This work will be completed as quickly as possible.

"Public health colleagues are in the process of informing the relevant contacts and advising on any relevant follow-up actions that may be necessary to protect their own health, that of their families and the community at large. The contacts include patients who attended Zone A (minors) of the Emergency Department in UHL between the hours of 10am and 2pm on Wednesday last, February 26 and they are being contacted directly. Patients in any other area of the Emergency Department or the wider hospital are not considered to be contacts.

"Patients who attended a small number of other health services are also being contacted by public health in line with procedure," it was added. 

"The Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick is operating as normal today, Friday, March 6. We can confirm that the Emergency Department was put off call for a three-hour period on Wednesday night to facilitate a precautionary deep clean of affected areas. Patients arriving by ambulance were diverted to Galway University Hospitals during this interval in line with established national protocols.

"Staff who were in close contact with one of the confirmed cases have been advised not to report for duty and to follow the guidance of public health and occupational health colleagues.

"Staff at UL Hospitals Group and in HSE Community Healthcare have been preparing for positive cases of COVID-19 for a number of weeks now and are closely following the plans established by the HSE and the Department of Health and in line with the WHO and ECDC guidance.

"We remain in the containment phase in relation to COVID -19 and as long as this remains the case, it is important that members of the public follow the most up-to-date advice from the HSE.

"General advice and information on COVID-19 for members of the public is available on www.hse.ie/coronavirus and the vast majority of people in the MidWest can access all the relevant information here."

Meanwhile, a number of students in Limerick have been told to self-isolate immediately until March 12 if they were in the affected area of UHL last Wednesday between 10am and 2pm

The students from a specific field of study within the third level institute were notified yesterday morning via text alert. 

There are now 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Republic of Ireland. 

For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit the dedicated coronavirus section of our website - click here

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