More than 60% of the population believe it is likely that Ireland will be hit with a second wave of Covid-19, despite the number of cases of the virus continuing to fall.
The Department of Health confirmed today that, for the second day in a row, there have been no new deaths related to Covid-19 meaning that the number of deaths due to the virus remains at 1,706.
A total of 18 new cases have been confirmed bringing the total number of people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in Ireland to 25,321.
At the bi-weekly meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said there have been no admissions to ICUs since June 9, while there are 78 confirmed cases in hospital.
There are a total of 471 clusters of the virus in residential care facilities — an increase of six since last Thursday. Five of these relate to the nursing home sector which now has a total of 256 clusters.
Dr Holohan said that 297 of the 471 clusters are regarded as closed as they haven't had "an incident case in the past 28 days", while 174 of the nursing home clusters are also deemed closed.
One new cluster has been reported in a meat factory.
New research from the Department of Health also revealed that 61% of the population feel it is likely that Ireland will be hit with a second wave of Covid-19. A total of 34% said they are now wearing a face mask.
Meanwhile, more than €1.6bn has been paid out in support of almost 900,000 workers under the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) and wage subsidy schemes since March.
The latest figures furnished by the Department of the Taoiseach show that €1.5bn has been paid out under the temporary wage subsidy scheme (TWSS) and a further €175 million has been paid out under the PUP.
An estimated 400,000 people are receiving TWSS support and a further 498,000 people are receiving PUP support but numbers are beginning to fall as the economy reopens.
Elizabeth Canavan, assistant secretary-general, Department of the Taoiseach, confirmed at Monday’s daily briefing that 108,000 people had closed PUP claims since the beginning of phase-one on May 18. Ms Canavan added that the take-up of business supports also remains “strong”.
More than 2,100 businesses have applied for €5 million under the trading online voucher scheme, which represents “three year’s worth of applications” over a three-month period, and Microfinance Ireland has approved more than 500 loans with a value of over €13 million.
The Government is also rolling out an emergency rent supplement for victims of domestic violence. The three-month payment will ensure that victims of domestic violence “are not prevented from leaving their home because of financial concerns” and the payment will be facilitated by referral through Tusla funded services, the Gardai and HSE.
As shopping centres reopen this week and nursing homes are beginning to ease visitor restrictions, Ms Canavan highlighted the importance of adhering to public health guidance on hand hygiene, sneezing and cough etiquette, social distancing, and wearing a face mask or covering.
Anyone intending on visiting a loved one in a nursing home is urged to call ahead to check on what arrangements are in place.
Ms Canavan said visiting shopping centres will be a “different experience” as numbers will be restricted and queuing for shops may be necessary.
“A key concern is to avoid large groups congregating so bear this in mind as you shop and avoid busy areas in shops as much as you can,” she said.
Face masks or coverings, she said, are recommended for those who can wear them, especially in situations where it may be difficult to socially distance.
“It is important how you use your face mask or other covering. It is important how you dispose of it and if it’s resuable, how you keep it clean. Advice on all of this, including how to make your own facemask is available on gov.ie,” Ms Canavan said.
Anyone showing symptoms of infection is also urged to self-isolate and contact their GP.
Meanwhile the Government has provided €32,000 in funding to support a series of online gigs hosted by music publication, Hotpress, from Monday night.
The ‘Lockdown Young and Emerging Series’ of concerts begins at 7.30pm on Hotpress’s Instagram account and will see 40 new and emerging artists play live every night for the next 40 nights.
As childcare services prepare to reopen from June 29, a ‘Let’s Get Ready’ campaign has been launched to support children and parents. Information is available online at Gov.ie/letsgetready for parents of children returning to childcare or attending childcare or primary school for the first time in September.
On the sporting front, Sport Ireland has developed a ‘Return to Sport COVID-19 Awareness e-learning course, which is available free of charge to assist sports groups and clubs to return to training and practice.
The course, which is available on www.gov.ie, covers hand and equipment hygiene, contact tracing, and recording attendance.