Irish backstop –
The deaths of another 16 patients – 10 males and six females – diagnosed with Covid-19 have been reported on Monday by the National Public Health Emergency Team.
Eleven of the deaths were in the east, four in the north-west and one in the west. Four of the patients were reported as having underlying health conditions. There have now been 174 Covid-19 related deaths in the Republic. The median age of today’s deaths is 78.
NPHET also reported 370 new confirmed cases on Monday. The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 5,364.
Of the deaths that have occurred so far, 132 took place in hospital, including 20 in ICU. Some 127 of the patients (73 per cent) had an underlying condition. The median age of those who died was 81 years. Men greatly outnumber women among the fatalities – 114 against 60.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan urged people to “stay at home” for Easter in order to continue limiting the spread of the virus.
“I think our advice will be for people to stay at home and if they have second homes not to travel to them, and not to engage in any unnecessary travel or leisure activities,” he told the NPHET briefing on Monday evening.
Dr Holohan said he understood the “ask” this involved for many people, especially as the weather improves, but he appealed to the public to “have patience with us”.
The current restrictions, which are due to end on Easter Sunday, will be considered at NPHET meeting on Tuesday and on Friday.
Dr Holohan said he wasn’t anticipating any change to these “at this moment in time”.
“I anticipate we’ll still be asking people to stick with the tough measures we’ve been asking people to stick with so far.”
He said there has been progress on a continuing basis “for 10 days or more” in terms of flattening the curve of the epidemic. “We think we’re pushing out the wave of infection (and) we think we’re pushing down the peak of that.”
While the benefit of the measures introduced 10 days ago are beginning to be seen, “we’re not all the way through”.
“That’s because this epidemic is still growing at an unsustainable rate,” he said.
At its meeting on Tuesday, NPHET will also consider the public health implications of setting up a childcare scheme to facilitate healthcare workers. The Government has said it is ready to establish such a scheme once it gets the go-ahead from public health officials.
An analysis of the 175 people diagnosed with Covid-19 who have so far been admitted to ICU shows 33 per cent were discharged while 20 died. Some 131 of these patients had an underlying condition and the median age of ICU cases was 61.
Seven more people in Northern Ireland have died from coronavirus, the North’s Public Health Agency (PHA) reported on Monday evening. This brings the number of Covid-19 fatalities in the North to 70. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland is now 1,158 with 8,740 people tested for the virus.
The total number of deaths on the island of Ireland is 244.
Meanwhile a total of 714,000 people are now receiving social welfare income payments from the Department of Social Protection.
The €350 Covid-19 unemployment payment is being paid to 507,000 people who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, according to new figures issued by the Department. Another 207,000 were already on the live register.
This represents an increase of 200,000 people claiming income supports in less than a week. Last Thursday the department, on foot of figures issued by Central Statistic Office (CSO), said just over 513,000 people were on the live register or receiving the new income support payment.
The scale of demand for the Covid-19 payment demonstrated the “once in a century nature of the emergency facing the country” Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty said.
Separately, 39,000 employers have registered for the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme since it was established two weeks ago.
Meanwhile the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes has increased again to 57, according to the latest HSE report.
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Forty-one of the reported clusters of the disease are in the east of the country, but outbreaks have been reported in all regions apart from the north-east.
There is also a growing number of outbreaks in residential institutions, where 26 clusters have now been reported. Most of these – 18 – are in the east.
The Disability Federation of Ireland said the rise in cases in residential centres of people with disabilities has been overlooked to date. In many of these centres, it says, self-isolation is not an option because of the need for assistance to be given to residents through close physical contact.
The number of clusters in hospital has increased from 37 to 43 in the latest daily epidemiological report from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
It shows a total of 1,163 healthcare workers have become infected with coronavirus; foreign travel accounts for only 101 of these cases.
The oldest person to be diagnosed with Covid-19 was 99 years old and the youngest was a baby in the first year of life.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 community assessment hubs will keep patients from overburdening the hospital system while being treated by healthcare staff, the head of the GP association has said.
Community assessment hubs for Covid-19 will begin accepting their first patients this week. The Health Service Executive said 12 to 15 of the assessment hubs will be in place by the end of the week. The hubs provide facilities for people who need to self-isolate, those who are sick and people who are awaiting a test result.
The Vice-President of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) Dr Nuala O’Connor said the hubs will keep patients from “overburdening the hospital system”.
“They are another layer of triage in the community.
“Somebody like myself who is a GP, I’m going to have a number of patients who have Covid-19 and are recuperating at home.
“If I feel they are becoming unwell, not so unwell that they need to go to hospital but if they are experiencing shortness of breath, then the community hub is another place where I can organise for a patient to be seen by health care professionals.”
Dr O’Connor said in cases where a person can not self isolate at home, they will be sent to one of the hubs instead of hospital.
“We are trying to make sure that as the figures increase that we can make sure not to overburden the emergency rooms and healthcare systems if at all possible.”
Dr O’Connor said patients will be assessed by nurses and GPs at the community hub and a decision can then be made as to whether they need to go to hospital for oxygen and other supports or can continue to recover at home. In some cases, recovery in a community isolation unit may be suitable for them, Dr O’Connor added.
On Sunday night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed he rejoined the Medical Register last month. He has offered his services to the HSE for one session a week in areas that are within his scope of practice and will be carrying out phone assessments.
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