Ireland still in early stages of crisis, warns Chief Medical Officer

Ireland still in early stages of crisis, warns Chief Medical Officer

Two more people have died from Covid-19 as the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the country has now passed 1,000.

The total number of deaths from the coronavirus now stands at six, with the latest deaths involving two males in the east of the country. 

None of the deaths to date are believed to have involved health workers.

A further 219 cases of the virus were confirmed last night, bringing the total in Ireland to 1,125.

At the daily National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) briefing, chief medical officer Tony Holohan warned that the country is still in the early stages of the crisis and that “we will have more deaths”.

He said the NPHET had not been informed of any underlying illnesses in relation to the latest deaths. 

He declined to release the ages of the men who died, but said that as the number of deaths increases, that information will be released.

The NPHET is currently examining modelling data to ascertain when the expected “surge” of cases is likely to hit the country.

Dr Holohan also confirmed that thousands of people were applying for a test on a daily basis and that the average waiting time for a test is “longer than we would like”.

“That’s as a result of some of the constraints in terms of supply through procurement of swabs and things of that nature, as well as the capacity of the testing and sampling centres which the HSE has been establishing very quickly over the course of the past fortnight,” he said.

“But we are on our way to a substantial increase in testing capacity, which will free up the number of tests that we can do and will allow us to reduce significantly the turnaround times for the tests that are being done.”

Of the 836 cases notified as of 12 midnight on March 21:

  • 55% are male and 44% are female, with 37 clusters involving 210 cases;
  • The average age of confirmed cases is 44 years;
  • 239 cases (29%) have been hospitalised;
  • Of those hospitalised, 25 cases have been admitted to ICU;
  • 208 cases (25%) are associated with healthcare workers.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 471, (56% of all cases) followed by Cork with 104 cases (12%). 

Of those for whom transmission status is known, community transmission accounts for 45%, close contact accounts for 23%, and travel abroad accounts for 31%.

Research conducted on behalf of the Department of Health shows that an increasing number of people are taking heed of the social distancing and hand-washing measures, with than 93% of the population saying they are washing their hands more often as a result of the virus outbreak.

Dr Holohan said the public response to the coronavirus was continually under review and that further recommendations may be made after today’s NPHET meeting.

“We are very pleased with the response of the Irish public that, for the great majority of circumstance and with great forbearance and understanding, the public has been with us in implementing the social distancing measures that we have mandated,” he said.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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