The Department of Health says it is aiming to contain the coronavirus in a matter of weeks, with a national pandemic being expected to be in place by March 2019.
The department said that as a result of a national lockdown that began on Sunday, the health system had reduced the number of healthcare workers in quarantine from 300 to 60.
Dr Bruce O’Connor, the chief executive of the department, said there had been a dramatic reduction in the number and number of infectious disease cases in the community.
He said: “The pandemic is coming to an end, and as a consequence, we are expecting to see a very substantial reduction in infectious disease activity in the coming weeks.”
We will be able to say with confidence that the virus will be contained within the next couple of weeks.
“A number of measures, including an increased supply of sterile gowns and gloves, will be put in place, he said.
A spokeswoman for the department said it was taking precautions to ensure the health of its staff.
Dr O’Neill said the health service was also looking at ways to ensure that there were no further changes to hospital settings, such as changing bed-and-breakfast arrangements, or making staff aware of the fact that there would be a lockdown.”
That would be something we would be monitoring and doing a lot of contingency planning for, but I wouldn’t rule out that in the future,” he said, adding that this would also include having more staff available to help with the new measures.
The spokeswoman added: “There’s no evidence that we’re going to see more cases of the pandemic, and there are many people who are working in the hospital who would not have been in hospital in the past week, if not for this lockdown.”
Dr O’,Connor said that the department was working closely with health authorities and community partners to ensure there were safe spaces for staff to remain in and that there was a safe place for patients to go to.
He added: ‘We’re working hard to keep the health services as safe as possible and we’re not going to let any other event get in the way of that.’
A spokesman for the Department of Social Protection said there was no evidence of a new spike in cases in relation to the lockdown.
The spokesman said: ‘The department is providing reassurance that our staff, as well as other key services, will continue to operate normally as normal, with the exception of the lockdowns.’
However, if there is any indication of an increased incidence of illness, we will make appropriate measures to help reduce the risk of infection, as outlined in the Health (Health) Order.’
The department continues to closely monitor and assess all cases and is working closely together with the authorities and health authorities to ensure a full recovery for everyone involved.’
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