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*Photograph: John Mangan

Ireland has recorded its lowest daily total of new COVID-19 cases in over two months with an additional 9 deaths and no new cases in Co Clare.

Comments from the CEO of Nursing Home Ireland, Tadhg Daly that Irish nursing homes were left isolated at the beginning of the pandemic and that social distancing was applied to such settings before the measures were introduced were addressed at Tuesday’s press briefing.

Daly appeared before a sitting of the Dáil’s COVID-19 committee on Tuesday. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan stated, “I did not have time to review the Oireachtas proceedings”. He described the State’s response to the health crisis as “significant” and “a very early response in comparison with other countries”.

Holohan stressed that there was “no way of protecting nursing homes or other institutions” unless the spread of COVID-19 in communities was controlled. He conceded that they have learnings from how the process with nursing homes was managed, “We will never get everything perfectly right”. He said that there needs to be a “move away from a language of blame and finger pointing” and added, “protecting individuals isn’t a case of blame” and instead labelled it as “unhelpful”.

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE admitted that a lot has since been learned about the virus. “I don’t ever think there has been a virus in which there has been so much learnings in a short period of time”. He maintained that questions have been raised on whether older people should be encouraged to stay home for as long as they are medically able.

Health officials also confirmed an additional nine deaths. It brings the total to 1,615 the amount of individuals that have died in the country. 1,011 have been in long-term residential settings and 804 of those that have died are nursing home residents.

In what was the country’s lowest amount of additional cases in the space of one day since March 13th, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) confirmed 37 new cases. 24,735 persons have tested positive for the virus since its outbreak.

Co Clare has recorded no new cases in the space of 24 hours. The total of 322 accounts for 1.3% of cases in the country.

One additional patient has been admitted to ICU in the past 24 hours. To date, 396 individuals have been treated at ICUs throughout the country during the pandemic.

No new clusters have been reported in nursing homes but the amount of cases has risen by 18 to 4,977.

Direct Provision centres have seen two more residents diagnosed with the Coronavirus in the last week. A total of 173 individuals living in DP centres have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are now 925 cases involving workers at meat processing plant with an increase of 103 in the space of one week. Members of the Roman community account for 22 of all cases in the country, with no change in seven days.

Five new homeless individuals have contracted the virus, the total figure is now 25. There are 18 new cases among Irish Travellers, as of Saturday bringing the overall amount to 64.

Additional clusters and outbreaks are to be expected as restrictions are eased, Dr Holohan cautioned. “We’ll have to make interventions as necessary”.

Data on the long-term impact of COVID-19 is expected to be released in the coming months, according to Dr Cillian De Gascun, Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory. Dr Henry confirmed that no studies on the exact subject have been carried out.

At the conclusion of the press briefing, Dr Holohan confirmed that arrangements were being assessed that briefings would be held twice a week as opposed to daily conferences when Ireland enters phase two.

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