A professor of immunology has called on the authorities to cancel the St Patrick’s Day festival, as cases of the coronavirus begin to climb in Ireland.
The warning comes as Trinity College Dublin wrote to staff and students to inform them that a case of the potentially fatal Covid-19 has been confirmed on the campus.
An email sent to students and staff said a section of the Trinity city centre campus will be closed and deep cleaning was underway, but that the university would otherwise operate as normal.
Efforts are underway to find anyone who has been in contact with the infected person.
The email reads: “We were informed of a positive case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) within Trinity College Dublin late on Thursday night (March 5).
“We are now working closely with the authorities to ensure that this individual receives the best care possible.
“The HSE will trace anyone who has been in contact with the infected individual to ensure they receive any necessary medical attention.”
“The relevant part of the University (Floor 4 of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute), and the lifts in TBSI, have been closed as a precautionary measure and will be cleaned in accordance with HSE guidelines.
“The rest of the University is open and operating as normal.
“However, the situation remains fluid and you should check your emails regularly as well as the latest official advice from the HSE and other statutory bodies.”
Last night, as the total of confirmed cases of the corona virus climbed to 13 in the Republic, a Professor of Experimental Immunology from Trinity College Dublin told RTE’s Primetime that the St Patrick’s Festival should be postponed.
Professor Kingston Mills said that he thought the event should be cancelled. “It shouldn’t go ahead. It’s a mass gathering, that involves people coming from outside Ireland, I think the risks are too great,” he told the programme.
Earlier this week, Prof John Oxford, a top expert on influenza and Emeritus Professor of Virology at the University of London, told Seán O’Rourke that Ireland should follow the example of the Chinese authorities who had cancelled the Chinese New Year celebrations.
“The Government should take it a bit more seriously,” he said. “[I]t’s quite likely you’ve got the virus spreading around: this is pretty infectious. It’s not like measles and it’s not quite as infectious as flu, it just moves quietly,” he told the show on Tuesday.
“Like in northern Italy, they sat there for weeks thinking they didn’t have a case, everything was fine, suddenly there was an explosion – they’re the new epicentre now,” he warned.
Regarding the St Patrick’s Festival, he said, “Every little place has a parade, on top of that you’re getting lots of visitors in from abroad, from all over the place. If I were in their [the government’s] shoes I would say ‘we must postpone it’, it’s not the end of the world for one year. Don’t have it this year because of the things going on, after all the Chinese postponed the Chinese New Year, which is immense.”