'We are not yet where we need to be', Harris says as govt considers extending restrictions

The State's Chief Medical Officer says the public should not be surprised if restrictions on work and travel are extended beyond this Sunday.
'We are not yet where we need to be', Harris says as govt considers extending restrictions

The State's Chief Medical Officer says the public should not be surprised if restrictions on work and travel are extended beyond this Sunday.

The death toll from Covid-19 in the Republic has risen to 174, after 16 more people were confirmed to have died from the virus.

There are now over 5,300 confirmed cases.

The National Public Health Emergency Team meets this morning to discuss further extending movement restrictions but a formal recommendation will not be made until Friday.

However Dr Tony Holohan says people will know before then if the measures will remain in place.

"What we will do over the course of the week, I will be as honest and open with you as I can be so it won't be that I will reveal everything in one go on Friday.

"As the week progresses and our impression of where we are is increasing either in one direction or another I will share that with you.

Wherever we arrive at formally on Friday won't be a surprise to you.

Dr Holohan advised that restrictions on travel and work will only be lifted when the country has a grip on the outbreak.

He said that there are factors to be considered before relaxing any measures including that "we know we have the capacity in our testing, the capacity in terms of the kit that has to be available, to really be strong and focused on finding cases.

"Our work over the course of the next one to two weeks will be to try and get us into that position."

The World Health Organisation has warned countries not to completely lift restrictions in one go.

Executive director Mike Ryan has this advice to governments who are thinking about taking away lockdown measures.

"It would be very ill advised if the number of cases coming through the hospital are already at a level where your occupancy of beds is nearly at 100%.

"You need to be in a position where you have free beds in your system so that you're managing and coping with the case load.

"You need to look at things like the doubling rate - how many days does it take for the number of cases to double."

Yesterday, there were 370 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed.

Of the 5,300 cases in the country, 175 patients have been admitted to the ICU.

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin is one of the busiest hospitals in the country for Covid-19 cases.

Infectious diseases consultant at Beaumont Hospital, Eoghan de Barra, says the critical cases are concerning.

Dr de Barra said that while the number of people coming in has stabilised in recent days a high proportion of those are quite severe and find themselves in the Intensive Care Unit.

"The last few days we are seeing a steady number of patients coming in that need very advanced care and ventilators and all of these things that people are now widely aware of.

"But we haven't ended up in a situation that we have seen other countries in.

"Now whether that's a few days to come that remains to be seen and we have processes in place to deal with that surge."

Health Minister Simon Harris says the rate of growth is slowing but is still too high.

"There are some encouraging signs there in terms of the rate of growth but too early to say.

"We are entering a very, very crucial week.

The virus is very much here, it is still at an unsustainable level. While we are making progress, we are not yet where we need to be.

Minister Harris said that there are still a number of worrying signs including the

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"This is all about saving lives. As tough and challenging as these measures are we are going to stay the course until we get to a point where we can say it is safe for our people to return to a degree of normality."

The HSE has urged anyone who is awaiting a test for Covid-19 to seek medical help if their condition deteriorates.

Chief clinical officer Colm Henry says people should contact their GP or medical services if feeling increasingly unwell.

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