TWENTY thousand Irish might be diagnosed with the coronavirus within weeks, a top doctor has warned.
The deadly ‘snake flu’ that originated in Wuhan, China, has already killed over 170 people and infected quite 7,700.
Professor Sam McConkey told RTE’s Morning Ireland the virus is “likely” to spread around the world
He said: “It hasn’t yet been detected in Ireland but it’s quite possible that within the next three, four, six, eight weeks that we’d be seeing thousands of individuals coming to the ER with that virus.
“From the data from China, two percent may die and about 25 percent need oxygen and hospitalization to remain alive.
“We need planning, like strengthening our diagnostic capacity.”
He added: “So nobody knew this virus existed before December so we’ve to develop and test new diagnostic tests.
“Have them widely available so if someone does come to the emergency room, you’ll rapidly determine do they need it or not, just as we’ve done with flu.
“Fortunately, a number of the same technology platforms we’ve been using for influenza can be transferred to work for this new coronavirus.
“Secondly, teaching staff about personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, masks – it isn’t all that exciting but it seems the way to take it off correctly is really important to protect staff and other patients.
“The deaths from Ebola in West Africa we found were from people contaminating their skin, eyes, mouth accidentally by touching the outer surface of their gowns and masks.”
He continued: “So we’re a very, very wealthy country. to put this in context the Chinese have just given 8billion to build two big hospitals in Wuhan to deal with isolated cases – that’s four children’s hospitals they’re proposing to build in two weeksand they probably will.
“We could do this if we needed to, we’ve the technical ability to respond to this if it becomes a problem of extensional survival of 20,000 people in Ireland potentially.
“So I think we’re well organised, we’ve good technology, good diagnostics, very well-trained staff so I think we could survive it.”
Meanwhile, variety of Chinese citizens have placed themselves in “self isolation” after returning to ireland from China, the Chinese Embassy in Ireland has said.
The Chinese natives have made the move in accordance with the wants for epidemic prevention.
A “small number” of Irish are also set to be flown out of the coronavirus-hit region of China.
The Department of Foreign Affairs are in touch with Irish living within the infected areas of China.
Tanaiste Simon Coveney said that a couple of Irish citizens are set to be flown out of the country and placed on a two-week quarantine.
He said: “We have a small number of Irish citizens who are within the province that’s affected in China.
“We are in touch with them through our embassy. Some are happy to remain and a really small number want to leave. We are putting arrangements in place to facilitate that and thatis likely to happen within the next couple of days.”