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‘Further progress needed’ if restrictions are to be lifted as Clare COVID-19 cases reaches 212

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As it stands, health officials will not be recommending the easing of current restrictions on the movement of the public with confirmation of 386 new cases of COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland, 3 in Co Clare and 18 more deaths.

On Monday, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre was informed that 18 more people had died, 17 of which were confirmed to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 1,102 individuals have died in the country from the virus, 3 cases have been de-notified by health officials.

386 additional cases are known as of 11am in the Republic. It brings to 19,648 the amount of individuals that have received a positive diagnosis since the outbreak of the virus. There are no known cases of recovered individuals being reinfected in Ireland. “We have no evidence that immunity will arise in a way that will protect people,” the World Health Organisation have said.

Data from Saturday has confirmed there have 212 cases in Co Clare to date. It marks an increase of 3 additional cases in the county over the space of 24 hours.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan confirmed there are 355 clusters in community residential facilities and 211 in nursing homes resulting in 3,805 and 3,048 associated cases respectively. There have been 641 deaths from community residential facilities and 546 COVID-19 deaths from nursing homes.

When questioned on whether the advice issued to nursing homes was good enough, he said that recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) were made from nursing homes. He recalled that calls to introduce visitor restrictions were made in early March but noted, “We were at quite an early stage in the disease” and added, “We were anxious to say at the time all the measures made sense but we needed to do it in an organised way”.

Dr Siobhán Ní Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and HSE Integrated Care Lead commented, “We didn’t want to introduce too early because of how draconian and difficult it is”. She said there are “approximately 10 deaths” in disability homes across the country and revealed “up to 90% are free of COVID-19”.

No testing had been carried out at Irish nursing homes prior to March 10th.

Regarding the possible easing of restrictions come May 5th, the Department of Health official said it would “go down to the wire”. “We are still reporting a significant number of cases,” he said when outlining what the concerns are that would pause the relaxing of restrictions. Holohan is hopeful to see continued improvements but stressed, “we still have a way to go”.

Recent trends have been “encouraging but we need to see further progress”, Dr Holohan stated if more freedom is to be afforded to the public. Criteria such as the amount of cases per population, new ICU admissions, cases in long term residential community facilities, hospitalisations and deaths will be factored in when a decision is to be made on restrictions. He said that regionalised restrictions do not play a party in their approach.

Virgin Media Television’s Richard Chambers questioned the Chief Medical Officer on the prospect of Irish weddings taking place this summer. “We will give appropriate and clear advice to all those things at the right time,” Dr Holohan replied.

“A risk based approach” is being taken with relation to considerations of the return of sporting activities across the country.

Transparency of NPHET meetings was also discussed at Monday’s press briefing. More notes are expected to be disclosed from these meetings. Holohan said it was “a huge job for secretariat of that” to get through minutes from NPHET meetings. “They need to be circulated and approved before publication”.

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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