UCD expert chairs Advisory Group tasked with providing advice on the Coronavirus

Posted 6 February, 2020

UCD's Dr Cillian De Gascun now chairs the new Expert Advisory Group tasked with providing advice on the Coronavirus to the HSE and National Public Health Emergency Team. 

The appointment of the leading medical researcher, who is Laboratory Director at the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory, to the group comes as the HSE announces plans to provide ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ packs to around 3,000 GPs, public health doctors and clinics, as part of coronavirus preparation measures in Ireland.

The Expert Advisory Group is a multidisciplinary group with experts from relevant specialities.

Speaking on its establishment, Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, said: "The expert advisory group will monitor and review national and international research and developments in relation to coronavirus and provide expert advice to the National Public Health Emergency Team, the Health Service Executive and others, as appropriate.”

Speaking to RTE’s Morning Ireland, Dr De Gascun said Ireland remains at low risk from the virus but that a case would not be unexpected.

The UCD medical researcher said the next couple of weeks will tell if China's containment efforts have been successful, adding that there has not been sustained human-to-human transmission in any country outside China since the outbreak, which is positive.

Dr De Gascun said there was still a lot that was unknown about the virus and while there is a lot of fundamental science and information that need to be collected, it is not believed to be readily transmissible from person to person, which is why there has not been a huge spread outside China.

Echoing concerns from the Department of Foreign Affairs, he said that it would be advisable not to undertake non-essential travel to China.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations