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Confirmed Clare COVID-19 cases increases to 319

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*Photograph: John Mangan

Additional cases in Ireland have exceeded 100 for the first time in six days with an extra four in Clare as a further 11 people have died from COVID-19.

Officials from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre have confirmed 11 more people have died from the Coronavirus.

New daily cases is greater than 100 for the first time this week. 115 additional cases are known by health officials. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan stated that it was too early to link the increase to the easing of restrictions.

Cases within meat processing plants has increased, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn confirmed. 16 facilities have reported an outbreak. There are now 865 confirmed cases from meat plants. 17 workers have been hospitalised with 5 admitted to ICU. Dr Glynn said that almost 2,500 workers had been tested from 7 facilities.

For the first time in four days, the total figure of cases in Clare has increased. As of Wednesday (May 20th), there are 319 confirmed cases, an increase of four in the space of 24 hours.

On Friday morning, a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was held. Among the items discussed were the revisiting of a testing strategy, reports on the outbreaks in meat processing plants and preparation towards phase two in the relaxing of restrictions.

Caution was issued that increased contact among the public would accelerate the spread of “the transmissive virus” by Dr Holohan. He acknowledged that “the vast majority are still keeping faith with public health advice” and that 100% compliance could not be expected. He was hopeful the weekend weather forecast would aid their efforts to prevent a second wave.

Engagement between NPHET, the Department of Education plus the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is ongoing with regard to measures that could ease the burden of restrictions on children. “We are very sensitive to this and the impact restrictions have had on children,” Holohan stated. Views were expressed to the Government last week that more measures need to be identified, he recalled.

Speaking at Friday’s press briefing, Dr Holohan commented that immunity would not help in Ireland should there be a second wave. “A lot has been spoken about internationally about concepts like herd immunity, they were base on hope that it would confer immunity through exposure”. He added, “If we having got to where we have got to and suppressed the infection at the cost of very significant economic and societal measures, if as we ease through those restrictions we saw a significant rise in infection, immunity wouldn’t help”.

Dr Siobhán Ni Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and Integrated Care Lead HSE stated that on the issue of testing in nursing homes that when it was driven and encouraged by public health professionals.

No inmates of Irish prisons have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Dr Glynn confirmed. Any case associated with the Irish Prison Service is that of employees.

Trials for a vaccine “may be open at some stage,” Dr Holohan commented. He said that preparations need to be put in place for the development of vaccine and that they would continue to contribute to “the international effort and thinking about preparation”.

Holohan was unable to provide “specifics” when asked if there was a budget for the development of a vaccine. Dr Glynn highlighted that there would be “a consolidated approach” from European member states, conversations “have only been initiated in the last couple of weeks, we are engaging on a weekly basis”.

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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