For the first time in 65 days, Ireland reported no deaths from the Coronavirus, marking a major milestone in the country’s bid to suppress Covid-19.
Chief medical officer Tony Holohan sounded a note of optimism confirming that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will meet today to consider phase two of the lockdown exit roadmap.
Amid growing pressure from within cabinet and from businesses across the country, Dr Holohan said it was a “risk” to reduce the current social distancing guidelines from two metres to one but that Nphet was constantly reviewing these.
He will meet government ministers later this week, after a Cabinet row between ministers over reducing the rule to one metre, in line with WHO recommendations.
Announcing the daily statistics, Dr Holohan said there were now a total of 24,698 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, with 59 identified.
But for the first time since March 21 there has been no reported death in 24 hours. This leaves the number of confirmed fatalities at 1,606.
Dr Holohan’s comments come as critical failures in the handling of nursing home patients and residents in direct provision where scores of clusters of the virus emerged will be expressed at the Dáil’s special Covid-19 committee today.
Key State bodies left nursing home residents and their carers “isolated” at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, TDs will be told.
In a blistering opening address, Nursing Homes Ireland CEO Tadhg Daly will tell TDs on Tuesday that the response to Covid-19 that “the dismay will live forever with us.”
“We were exasperated. The sector required a specific plan. We knew that Covid-19 disproportionately impacts on older people. The planning and focus was almost exclusively on our acute hospitals. Multiple clusters initially emerged in our hospitals. But the numbers in nursing homes started to increase,” he will say.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), also appearing before the committee today, will tell TDs that there is "no national clinical oversight of care being delivered to some of our most vulnerable citizens".
Later in the day, the impact of Covid-19 on Direct Provision centres will be raised at the committee.
Representatives from the HSE and Department of Justice are to face questions from TDs on the situation in the centres. The most recent figures show that there were 13 clusters of the virus - that is two or more cases in a single setting - in Direct Provision amounting to 171 cases overall.
The issue has been brought into focus by the case of the former Skellig Star hotel in Caherciveen, County Kerry, as revealed by the Irish Examiner. At least 25 residents of the hotel, which was hastily turned into a Direct Provision centre in March, have tested positive for the virus.
Green Party TD Roderic O'Gorman said that the outbreak of the virus shows the larger issues with Direct Provision.