'Not the time' to attend mass gatherings, warns Holohan

Now is "not the time" to attending events that could be classed as mass gatherings, such as the Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin on Monday, however well-intentioned, the chief medical officer has warned.
'Not the time' to attend mass gatherings, warns Holohan
People at a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the US Embassy in Dublin following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday June 1, 2020. See PA story POLITICS Floyd Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People at a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the US Embassy in Dublin following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday June 1, 2020. See PA story POLITICS Floyd Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Additional reporting: Paul Hosford

Now is "not the time" to attending events that could be classed as mass gatherings, such as the Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin on Monday, however well-intentioned, the chief medical officer has warned.

While Covid-19 has been suppressed within the community, it still poses a threat to the lives of many people, Tony Holohan said.

The public health advice is clear on mass gatherings, and they are not "appropriate" at the moment, he added.

“It’s too early. Now is not the time to be attending such events."

The Department of Health understands people's motivations he said, but public health advice has not changed.

Dr Holohan is aware that gardaí are currently investigating the Black Lives Matter protest, he said, adding that those who attended should follow the public health advice around handwashing and respiratory hygiene, and be aware of the symptoms of the virus.

“If you develop symptoms, contact your GP,” he said.

A further eight people diagnosed with Covid-19 have died due to the virus, the National Public Health Emergency Team confirmed on Tuesday, bringing Ireland's death toll to 1,658.

Just 10 new cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday, the lowest number of daily cases since March. However, Dr Holohan said this low figure might be as a result of the bank holiday. There have now been 25,066 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

There have been approximately 500 new cases of the virus confirmed in the last week, of which 54% have been in people aged between 24 and 55 years old.

"While we are doing well, the potential for spread remains present across all regions of the country," Dr Holohan said.

The latest data shows that:

  • The median age of confirmed cases is 48 years
  • 3,292 cases have been hospitalised, 408 have been admitted to ICU
  • 7,986 cases are associated with healthcare workers
  • Dublin has the highest number of cases (48% of all cases), followed by Cork (6%)

Almost 50% of people are taking longer than four days from the onset of symptoms to being swabbed, according to Dr Ronan Glynn, the deputy chief medical officer.

Meanwhile, a further 36,200 people have returned to work in the last week, with numbers claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment now down to 543,200.

That figure is down from a peak of 598,00 at the beginning of May, with the weekly cost of the payment at €190 million.

The assistant general secretary at the Department of Taoiseach, Liz Canavan, said that another 28,400 people have notified the Department of Social Protection that they are returning to work. Of those, 21,100 will receive their last payment this week.

However, over half a million people are now in receipt of the temporary wage subsidy scheme, figures show. In total, 508,100 people have received at least one payment through their employer towards their salary.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said the fall in claims reflected the first phase of reopening the Irish economy.

“The peak demand for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment has passed in parallel with the flattening of the Covid-19 curve and each week, if the current progress on the health front holds firm, we will see an incremental drop on the numbers in need of this assistance. However, not everybody will be getting back to work in the first phases of the reopening of our society and, as I confirmed in the Dáil last week, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will extend beyond the original June end date."

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