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Restrictions unlikely to be eased on regional basis as 1 more case recorded in Clare

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*Photograph: John Mangan

4 further deaths and 88 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded across the country and one more in Co Clare while an easing of restrictions of a regionalised basis is not anticipated.

On Monday, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre received notification of four more deaths in the country from COVID-19. Two of these occurred over the weekend with the other two having been from April.

88 new cases are known by health officials bringing to 24,200 the amount of confirmed cases in the country to date. The total figure also includes individuals that have recovered from the virus.

As of Saturday, 315 people in Clare have received a positive diagnosis to date. It represents an increase of 1 in the space of 24 hours. The county accounts for 1.3% of cases within the nation.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan commented that the indicators showed continued progress and flagged that two weeks ago there was between 250-300 cases a day “and up to 20 deaths a day”. He stressed that high standards of behaviours have to be maintained when restrictions are eased. He is hopeful that the country will get to phase two and three of the reopening Ireland roadmap on time.

Holohan confirmed that a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) scheduled for tomorrow morning has been cancelled as he appears in front of the Dáil’s COVID-19 committee alongside HSE Chief Executive, Paul Reid which is chaired by Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND).

“It is part of the work we have to do, we are public servants,” Holohan said. “I am happy to help the committee with the important work they have to do, we support it and I have no difficulty at all in attending”.

Each session is expected to last two hours, the Dept of Health official highlighted that the meetings will have to run like any indoor meeting in a safe fashion. He said a risk assessment would be needed if the meeting lasted longer than two hours. “Precise arrangements will have to comply with public health advice” and added that the organisation of the meeting was not his responsibility, “Of course I wouldn’t go if I didn’t think it was safe”.

Easing restrictions are unlikely to occur on a regionalised basis, Holohan remarked. The discussion is “always on the agenda, if we felt it was justified to take a different approach for one part of the country, we would”. He was not anticipating that it is something NPHET would recommend, “If it needed to change, we could”.

As of Monday May 18th, there is capacity for 100,000 tests a week. Holohan reminded the press briefing that new cases has been less than 100 for the last three days. “We are now moving to testing of contacts, we believe we have a capacity for that”.

Dr Siobhan Ni Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and HSE Integrated Care Lead encouraged individuals who now have an opportunity to exercise up to 5km to do so “and participate with a friend outside of the household. I would urge anyone who can, to take advantage of this in order to improve mental health and wellbeing”.

She added that while it is now possible to meet up with people from other households, it should not be a different group of friends for every day.

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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