A meeting of the Cork/Kerry Inter-Agency Emergency Planning Group has discussed potential sites for further community testing centres and the possibility of establishing field hospitals in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

The meeting at the County Hall in Cork lasted two hours and was chaired by the Chief Executive of Kerry County Council, Moira Murrell.

Director of Public Health for Cork and Kerry, Dr Augustine Periera, gave the group an update on planning to accommodate the expected increase in cases of the virus in Cork and Kerry.

Cooperation and planning between the agencies is to be stepped up.

RTÉ News understands that the meeting discussed the provision of pre-fabricated field hospitals and the need for increased intensive care capacity for patients who become infected with Covid-19. It is understood that a number of hotels on the outskirts of Cork City and towns in both counties have been offered in response to the emergency.

The HSE's office of public health also briefed the meeting on measures being taken to slow the spread of infection.

In addition to Ms Murrell, the meeting was also attended by the Chief Executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty, and the Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey. Garda Chief Superintendents Barry McPolin, Tom Myers, Con Cadogan and Eileen Foster were also present, as were the Chief Executive of the South/South-West Hospitals Group, Gerry O'Dwyer, and the HSE's chief Officer in Cork, Ger Rainey.

The planning group was given an update on measures to maintain contact with vulnerable and elderly people and those living in isolated areas during the outbreak.

A spokeswoman for the group said in a statement: "At a scheduled meeting of the Regional Steering Group Major Emergency Management South, high level representatives from across the region of Cork and Kerry met to address ways that they can progress regional plans to support the HSE in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation.

"The group discussed plans for inter-agency collaboration to support communities in both Cork and Kerry at this challenging time."


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