Minister hopes to clear testing backlog as Ireland sees its biggest jump in Covid-19 cases

Minister hopes to clear testing backlog as Ireland sees its biggest jump in Covid-19 cases

Health officials have confirmed 553 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, the biggest increase since the outbreak began.

The Department of Health also confirmed a further 286 older cases of Covid-19 have been reported by a laboratory in Germany.

Earlier today, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he hoped the backlog in testing would be cleared by the end of next week.

He said between 25,000 and 30,000 tests had been sent to Germany, with more than half of the tests returned and the remainder due back this week.

Health Minister Simon Harris said 1,500 student nurses have signed up to be paid healthcare assistants in the health service during the coronavirus emergency.

Speaking at the Department of Health earlier, Mr Harris also said Ireland has more testing capacity than most other EU countries.

Gardaí patrolling in Dublin recently.
Gardaí patrolling in Dublin recently.

He said testing per head of population is the 5th highest in the EU.

There are 8,928 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, and another 33 people have died, taking the total to 320.

Of the 33 deaths, 25 had an underlying health condition. Thirty were in the east and three in the west. There were 14 females and 19 males with a median age of 82.

Analysis from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows that as of Thursday, when there were 7,787 cases, about 45% were male and 54% were female.

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan said: “Today’s figure of 553 represents the largest number of new cases reported in a single day since the start of the outbreak.

“This should remind everyone of the importance of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing. These are the actions to suppress this infection. We need to continue with them.”

    The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

A total of 2,141 cases are associated with healthcare workers.

The median age of confirmed cases is 48.

A total of 1,718 cases (22%) have involved hospital admission, and of those, 253 have been admitted to intensive care.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 4,156 (53%) followed by Cork with 581 (8%)

Today, Mr Harris launched a “one-stop shop” for mental health resources to help people cope during the pandemic, on Government website www.gov.ie/together.

He said the emergency is taking its toll on the nation’s mental health and there would be no return to “normality” once restrictions are lifted.

Gardaí on O'Connell Street in Dublin over the weekend.
Gardaí on O'Connell Street in Dublin over the weekend.

“The difficulty for everyone in this country is that we are not going back to normal life in May.

“It is going to be a new normal. I don’t want to worry or upset people but we need to work as a people to get to a better place.

“I’m concerned with the toll of restrictions on people’s mental health. It is not normal that you can’t go out and about or that you can’t visit your family on Easter Sunday.”

    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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