Statement by the Tánaiste on the Consular Aspects of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak
Statement18 February 2020
"The Consular Assistance Unit in my Department is liaising closely with our Embassies and Consulates overseas regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, and the implications for our citizens in the region.
The safety and welfare of our citizens overseas remains our priority.
In these efforts we are working hand-in-hand with the Department of Health and other relevant Departments and Agencies, both in Ireland and internationally, to ensure that all the appropriate advice and precautions are in place.
Ireland remains COVID-19 free.
To date, with the assistance of the UK and other EU partners, six Irish citizens were repatriated from Wuhan City in China. Three were evacuated on 31 January, and three were evacuated on 9 February.
Six Irish citizens were on board the Princess Diamond Cruise Ship, which is currently docked off Yokahama, Japan.
Two of these tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently being treated in hospital in Japan. These citizens share dual citizenship with another EU member state and are not normally resident in Ireland. Our Embassy in Tokyo is in ongoing contact with them regarding their consular needs.
We are also in close contact with those who remain in quarantine on the ship. We are working with our EU Partners and other like-minded countries regarding options for their return.
Nine Irish citizens were passengers on the Westerdam Cruise Ship, which is currently docked off Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Seven are currently being screened, along with other passengers and crew. Our Embassy in Hanoi is in ongoing contact with the citizens regarding their consular needs. Only two of these seven are normally resident in Ireland.
Two further Irish citizens, who were also passengers on the Westerdam, returned to Ireland over the weekend. The Health Service was informed. No further comment will be made about an individuals health or healthcare. To date, the Department of Health has confirmed there are no cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
Across government we are in close ongoing contact with the relevant international agencies, our EU Partners and other like-minded countries. We are sharing information regarding consular assistance and arrangements for our citizens, including where necessary, on repatriation and quarantine arrangements.
As in all consular cases, it would not be appropriate to comment on the details of any of these cases, or to speak publicly about the individuals concerned,
It is important for our citizens to know that any consular concerns or issues they might have are always treated in confidence.
We are reviewing our travel advice on a regular basis, and encourage anyone travelling or currently abroad to continue to check the DFAT website and to download our TravelWise app.
As previously announced, the Government has allocated €500,000 to the World Health Organization to assist its vital work to help control the spread of the COVID-19.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 concerns us all. It is vital to take early, coordinated action to prevent further spread of the virus.
Ireland’s international support is complementary to our domestic preparedness efforts led by the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive. We all share the overriding goal of minimising the impact of this epidemic."