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426 additional COVID-19 cases but none in Clare

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10 more deaths and 426 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the Republic of Ireland with no new reported cases in Co Clare.

In what is a sharp increase of confirmed cases, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan confirmed that not all new diagnoses were in the last 24 hours. Fewer than 200 of the 426 were samples from recent days, some of the ‘new cases’ are from hospitals that reported their first case in March

As a result of the extra 426 cases, there has been 23,827 individuals diagnosed in the Republic of Ireland since the outbreak of the virus.

Dr Holohan was unable to confirm if contact tracing was already underway for the over 100 cases from one hospital. “It wouldn’t surprise me if there was contact tracing”, he said and pointed out that there is internal knowledge within the hospital. “There is every possibility that contact tracing was done”.

A further 10 COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded bringing to 1,506 the amount of lives lost in the country. To date, there have been 7 deaths among healthcare workers. 55% of the nation’s deaths have been of nursing home residents. Latest figures reveal that 5,983 cases are associated with long-term residential settings.

Among healthcare workers, 73% of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are female. 252 healthcare workers have been hospitalised with 41 admitted to ICU.

No increase was recorded in the amount of COVID-19 cases in Co Clare. To date, there have been 308 positive cases in the county, many of which have recovered but detail on the amount of personnel that have recovered in each county have not been provided by the Department of Health.

When asked about Thursday’s report by The Irish Independent of letters which disclosed tensions between senior health officials and the HSE, Dr Holohan said work with the HSE is a collaborative process in a pressurised situation. “Of course tensions will arise from time to time. If I told you there was no tension, you might say we weren’t pushing ourselves enough.”

Holohan commented that the letters in question were written a month ago. He disagreed with views expressed by HSE CEO, Paul Reid that his statement on aspiring for a testing capacity of 1,000 per week were done to ‘light a fire’ under the HSE.

Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE, Dr Colm Henry added, “Of course there are tensions”. He continued, “It would be implausible to say there are no tensions or frustrations”.

Continuous assessment will be undertaken over the next five weeks to determine if childcare facilities can reopen sooner than envisaged on the phased approach. “We’re very sensitive to the challenge that exists to parents” in attending work and minding children, Dr Holohan said. He confirmed the matter would be assessed over the coming weeks with any evidence or risks pertaining to transmission needed before a decision is made.

Health officials are keen to “provide positive measures than can support children and families”. Holohan added, “The range of measures that fall under that setting is a series of different measures based on a risk based approach”. He highlighted that the document was a living one and that it was “not a rigid framework”.

Anecdotal reports of childminder entering homes to care for children are not known by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). The Chief Medical Officer acknowledged that there has been “a high level of compliance” and appreciated the challenge on people in accepting the advice. He said measures would not be in place longer than they needed to be.

Advice has been issued to the Government following a meeting of NPHET today. Wearing of face masks is expected to be included in some form of these recommendations. A Cabinet meeting tomorrow will discuss the advice from NPHET.

An exact location for a cluster in the south of Ireland accounting for approximately 140 cases is unknown as of yet. The Chief Medical Officer confirmed that it was from a meat processing plant.

Forward planning is being carried out taking into account the possibility of further waves and spread when restrictions are eased in August. Holohan noted that seasonal infections such as the flu “may become a challenge” when dealing with COVID-19. Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group cautioned that it was “potentially dangerous to model that far out”, he said that they were looking at making models “more sophisticated”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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