Proactive measures to combat the potential spread of the Coronavirus need to be implemented, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency believes that the acting Government needs to step up its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

He also believes that the HSE needs to be more definitive on the instructions being issued to concerned people and organisations.

Commenting on the matter, Fitzmaurice said: “First and foremost, flights from zones where the virus is rampant need to be grounded in the short-term. As it stands, a person could book a direct flight from Milan to Dublin for tomorrow for as little as €50.

“It is also important that travel restrictions are placed on anyone who currently lives in one of these red zones or who has travelled through one of these zones recently.

“We need to get serious about preventing the virus from spreading, and if that means we have to stop some people from entering the country – then so be it.

“Common sense must prevail in all of this as well. I welcome the decisions made today to call off St Patrick’s Day parades. These would have been hotbeds for the spread of the virus, especially in large cities like Dublin and Cork.

“The Cabinet sub-committee dealing with the coronavirus, which met today, need to implement further stringent protocols. We need to be proactive in ensuring that this virus does not become rampant.”

Meanwhile, Fitzmaurice directed some criticism at the HSE for its handling of the situation.

Continuing, he added: “We are hearing of situations where schools requested guidance from the HSE regarding concerns that school staff may have been in contact with someone who had contracted Covid-19.

“They reportedly asked whether or not it was best practice for them to close their doors to students for a two-week period. But it is alleged that the response from the HSE was far too broad and left this important call up to school personnel.

“With all due respect, it is health care professionals that need to be calling the shots here. They must take a hard-line approach to tackling this outbreak and minimising the opportunities for it to spread.

“The second of Ireland’s Six Nations matches has reportedly been postponed and St Patrick’s Day parades have been cancelled.

“But if these measures save a single life then they will have been worth it. Sporting or cultural events – or any large gatherings for that matter – can be postponed and rearranged, a person’s life is much more important.

“Over 110,000 cases of the virus have been detected right around the world, with 21 of these located in the Republic of Ireland. The overall death toll for the virus is just shy of 4,000 people.

“We need to heed the advice of healthcare professionals and be weary of our personal hygiene. This is particularly important for people who are in regular contact with vulnerable people, such as the elderly or people whose immune systems aren’t 100%.

“The fact that visiting restrictions are now in place across a number of hospitals and nursing homes is another welcome move.

“Being proactive in addressing this outbreak must be the priority, otherwise it could snowball into a major problem and cripple the health service even further,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice TD 086-1914565

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