Latest news updates for 3rd April 2020.
17.36 - Breaking news:
Another 22 people have died from Covid 19 in the Republic while 424 new cases have been confirmed.
18 deaths located in the east, 3 in the south, 1 in the west of the country.
· The patients included 11 females and 11 males.
· 16 patients were reported as having underlying health conditions
· Median age of today’s reported deaths is 80
There have now been 120 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.
The median age of deaths in Ireland is 82.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been informed of 424 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland, as at 1pm, Thursday 2nd April.
There are now 4,273 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
There are 149 people in the midlands with the illness.
Westmeath has the highest number of cases in the region with 86 - up from 81 yesterday.
Offaly's number increased by just one to 47.
Meanwhile, Laois seen no rise and remains at 16.
The HSE is now working to identify any contacts the patients may have had to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread.
Today’s data from HPSC, as of midnight, Wednesday 1st April 2020 (3,655 cases), reveals:
· 48% are male and 51% are female, with 171 clusters involving 626 cases
· Median age of confirmed cases is 48 years
· 1,039 cases (28%) have been hospitalised
· Of those hospitalised, 148 cases have been admitted to ICU
· 948 cases (26%) are associated with healthcare workers
· Dublin has the highest number of cases at 2,077 (57% of all cases) followed by Cork with 292 cases (8%)
· Of those for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 61%, close contact accounts for 23%, travel abroad accounts for 16%
The National Public Health Emergency Team met today (Friday 3 April) to continue its review of Ireland’s response and preparedness to COVID-19.
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “We are concerned with the number of clusters identified in nursing homes. We have identified a range of measures, working with the HSE. We need to see continuous actions being taken to reduce the risk of transmission in nursing home and long-term residential facilities.”
Dr. Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “We are now facing into the end of week one of new measures. It has been a tough adjustment but these efforts save lives. We will continue to protect vulnerable groups against this virus, by staying home and following public health advice. These efforts result in lives saved.
“Anyone over 70 years of age should remain cocooned as per public health advice, and for essential food and prescription shopping, call on family, friends or services to help you. Over 70’s should not be leaving home.”
Dr. Colm Henry, Clinical Chief Officer, HSE, said; “There is now a clear picture of more severe illness in older people. This underlines the importance of our advice on cocooning and requires all of us to support any vulnerable people who find themselves in isolation.”
17.10 - HSE:
There's a call for schools to donate science lad protective gear to the HSE.
Clive Byrne is the Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals.
He says people want to play their part in supporting the country's healthcare staff:
17.05 - Arts:
The Arts Council has announced a €1 million fund to help artists to make new and original art during the Covid-19 crisis.
The scheme- called the Arts Council Covid-19 Crisis Response Award - is aimed at suppoprting the creation of new artistic work and its publication online for the benefit of the public.
The award is open to anyone with a track record of professional practice as an artist, of any type.
Artists already receiving funding from the Arts Council are not eligible to apply.
16.55 - Courts:
A man's appeared in court charged with spitting on a security guard at a Dublin shopping centre.
It comes amid rising concern over the spread of COVID-19 around the country.
Gardaí say a 45-year-old man was arrested yesterday after an incident at the Bloomfield Shopping Centre in Dun Laoghaire on Wednesday.
He was charged this morning and brought before a private sitting of the District Court, where he was remanded in custody.
16.50 - IBEC:
Money needs to be pumped into the economy to ensure it recovers from the Covid 19 emergency.
That's the message from employers body IBEC.
It wants the government to introduce a range of measures such as crisis cash payments and tax and rate deferrals to help businesses.
IBEC's CEO Danny Mc Coy says holding back on spending would be the wrong approach to take
16.45 - USA:
Nearly 700 more people who had Covid-19 have died in the UK - as the death rate continues to rise.
The Department of Health says 3-thousand-600 patients have now passed away in hospitals.
Meanwhile, New York's governor has pleaded with manufacturers in the state to start making protective masks and gowns for health workers.
Andrew Cuomo's also confirmed up to 2-thousand-500 coronavirus patients will be cared for at a field hospital at the Javits convention centre
16.35 - Universities:
Seven of Ireland's universities are replacing their face-to-face exams at the end of this semester with online assessments.
The institutions, which are represented by the Irish Universities Association, will use the likes of essays, reports and multiple choice questions to asses students.
The IUA says detailed information on timetables will be issued as soon as possible.
President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh (PRON: Hook-er-tee) says it's been a challenging time for both students and staff:
16.30 - HSE:
The Chinese Embassy says the HSE is working with suppliers on specification and size for Personal Protective Equipment and that an action of this scale will naturally have issues.
It's after the Finance Minister admitted that some of the PPE from China is "different" to what healthcare workers normally use.
Some of the consignments include masks and gowns that are below standard.
Paschal Donohoe says he believes the equipment can still be used:
16.24 - Debenhams:
Debenhams shareholders are preparing to place the department store chain into administration.
It's understood they're seeking to protect the 242-year-old business from creditors during the coronavirus shutdown.
It could appoint administrators as early as next week.
The majority of its 22-thousand workforce are on leave while its shops are closed.
16.10 - Universities
All of Ireland's universities are replacing their face-to-face exams at the end of this semester with online assessments.
The seven institutions will use the likes of essays, reports and multiple choice questions to asses students.
The Irish Universities Association says detailed information on timetables will be issued as soon as possible.
President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh says it's been a challenging time for both students and staff:
16.05 - Schools:
Schools are being encouraged to donate their stock of personal protective equipment to the HSE.
Many schools would use goggles, gloves and aprons in their science labs.
Clive Byrne is the Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals.
He says the equipment could be used by the emergency services:
15.55 - Travel:
The government is trying to help over a thousand Irish citizens who are stranded abroad and want to get home.
They're spread across 86 countries and are being encouraged to try and make their way back to Ireland as soon as possible.
The government says repatriating them has been made more difficult by the closure of airspace and grounding of airlines in many countries.
Senior official Liz Canavan says the task of bringing citizens home is challenging:
15.45 - IBEC:
The group that represents Irish business has called for new government measures to support vulnerable firms through the current crisis.
IBEC has outlined proposals for emergency liquidity and cashflow measures worth around 30 billion euro.
The plans include a range of loans, credit guarantees, tax and rate deferrals and crisis cash payments.
IBEC Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Fergal O’Brien, says debt forgiveness will also have to be considered:
15.40 - An Post:
Elderly and vulnerable people who are cocooning at home have been thanking the postal service for their efforts.
Postmen and women across the country have been checking-in on people and delivering necessities.
This elderly couple from rural Co Carlow, says the community has come together.
15.20 - UK:
Nearly 700 more people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus.
The Department of Health says there have now been 3-thousand-605 confirmed deaths in hospital.
That's up 684 from yesterday's figure - the biggest daily increase yet.
15.15 - Prescriptions:
The Irish Pharmacy Union is welcoming new Covid 19 prescription regulations.
They increased the maximum period of validity of a prescription from 6 months to 9 months.
Pharmacists can also give 10 days supply of medicines in an emergency and extend the range that can be supplied in an emergency for epilepsy.
GPs can also electronically transfer prescriptions to pharmacies.
15.10 - HSE:
An expert is suggesting the surge in Covid 19 cases in Ireland hasn't happened yet.
98 people have died of coronavirus, and 3,849 people have been diagnosed with it.
The highest number of new cases in a single day was recorded yesterday, at 402.
Dr Cillian De Gascun chairs the HSE's Expert Advisory Group, and, speaking to Kfm, says the peak could be up to 3 weeks away.
14.52 - Finance:
The Finance Minister says the government is looking to buy new protective equipment after admitting that some of the PPE from China is "different" to what healthcare workers normally use.
Some of the consignments include masks that are poor quality and gowns that are too small.
The Chinese Embassy says the health service is working with suppliers on issues including specification and size and that an action of this scale will naturally have issues.
The government is forking out 200 million euro for the equipment.
Paschal Donohoe says they're examining how it can be put to use;
14.38 - Parentline:
Parentline's helpline has experienced a spike in calls as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The group says many of its callers are concerned about the impact restrictions on movement are having on their children.
Police in the UK have reportedly been told to fine people who are not stopping their kids from going outdoors.
Parentline CEO Aileen Hickey doesn't feel fines should be implemented here, but says some parents are finding it hard to keep kids in;
14.30 - Vitamins:
Health experts are calling for the immediate supplementation of Vitamin D to all patients at healthcare facilities.
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have found that Vitamin D can help fight Covid-19.
Their study shows that if people take it they can reduce the severity of the illness brought on by coronavirus.
The research also found that a healthy diet with 20-50 micrograms per day of vitamin D is a cheap, safe and potentially very effective protection against Covid-19.
14.05 - NUI Galway:
NUI Galway will confer more than 300 graduates online next week.
Due to restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the University will not be able to hold them in person and will mark the occasion through Facebook live instead.
On Monday 190 future doctors will be conferred.
NUI Galway pushed forward their final year exams to ensure they would be available to enter the healthcare workforce.
14.01 - Businesses:
Additional supports for businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak are being considered.
It comes as IBEC criticises the Government for not doing enough to assist businesses through the crisis.
The group wants to see a package of cashflow and liquidity measures rather than just low-interest loans and the wage subsidy scheme.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says he along with the Business Minister are looking at what other measures may be necessary to help businesses survive:
13.55 - Central Bank:
The Central Bank says reduction in economic output this year will be greater than any year during the financial crisis.
The bank says the economy could collapse by 25% over the next three months and up to half a million people could lose their jobs.
It says public finances could be €19.6 billion down this year.
But economist David McWilliams says the Central Bank should be a player not a spectator:
13.50 - Supplies:
There's a call for dedicated air freight hubs to be set up across the EU to handle medical goods.
Medicines for Ireland says it doesn't currently have any issues regarding supply, but that the hubs would ensure capacity for demand.
MFI which is the country's main supplier of drugs, wants the government to secure viable and affordable air access, for medicines in and out of Europe.
13.42 - Arts:
A one million euro arts and culture scheme has been announced to support artists and writers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The funding will allow over 300 artists to sculpt, paint, write or create music.
Half a million will be provided by the Government, while the other half will come from the Arts Council.
Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan says its an ideal time for creativity:
13.40 - Restrictions:
New restricted opening hours are being introduced an Intreo centres around the country.
They are run by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
It says over the last three weeks they have faced unprecedented demand for income supports.
The vast majority of applications are online and footfall into public offices has reduced dramatically.
From today they'll open from 10am to 1pm on Fridays, Mondays and Wednesdays and close on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Families Will Lose Their Home-Help Hours During Pandemic https://t.co/epe5ZSr4LW— Midlands103 (@Midlands103) April 3, 2020
13.22 - Helpline:
The head of Parentline does not believe parents in Ireland should be fined if their children consistently disobey the restrictions on movement.
In the UK, police have reportedly been told to fine people who are not stopping their kids from going outdoors.
CEO of Parentline Aileen Hickey doesn't feel the fines should be introduced here, now that over half a million people are on some form of unemployment benefit:
13.11 - Personal Protective Equipment:
The Finance Minister says the personal protective equipment that has arrived from China is not standard for the Irish health service.
Paschal Donohoe says it's currently being examined by the HSE:
Drones Delivering Supplies To Elderly In Offalyhttps://t.co/2BqpPTVBZj— Midlands103 (@Midlands103) April 3, 2020
13.01 - Meeting:
The country's top health officials are meeting this afternoon to discuss the next steps in Ireland's response to Covid 19.
Plans to ramp up testing and the rising number of clusters in nursing homes are some of the main issues on the agenda.
The Taoiseach admitted last night the levels of testing for Covid 19 aren't where the government thought they'd be.
Around 2,500 people are currently being tested - health officials want that to be as high as 15 thousand a day in the coming weeks.
It's one of the main issues being discussed by the National Public Health Emergency Team this afternoon.
They'll also consider how well the current restrictions are working.
Senior government official Liz Canavan says it'll be next week before any decision is made.
The NPHET meeting today will also discuss the rising number of clusters in nursing homes - it now stands at 38.
Overall, there are now over 3,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country and 98 people have died.
12.46 - Equipment:
There are concerns that some of the Personal Protective Equipment being distributed to healthcare workers is not up to standard.
Consignments have been arriving here from China.
At first there were concerns about the shortage of PPE equipment including masks, gowns, and goggles.
Now concerns are being raised about the type of equipment available since it arrived. Several deliveries have arrived from China this week, however there are reports frontline staff are concerned that the masks are poor quality and the gowns are too small.
The HSE has placed an order of over 200 million euro however there are fears it may not materialize to the extent expected.
Chief Executive Paul Reid says they're working hard to deliver but it’s a tough market.
12.31 - Vitamin C:
Researchers have found that respiratory infections such as Covid-19 can be eased with the intake of Vitamin D.
A study carried out at Trinity College Dublin has found that by taking Vitamin D people can limit the severity of the illness brought on by coronavirus.
One in eight Irish adults under the age of 50 is deficient in it.
The Irish Medical Journal recommends that adults living here should take 20-50 micrograms of Vitamin D per day.
12.02 - Garda vetting:
The gardaí have processed 5,500 garda vetting applications for healthcare workers over the past three weeks.
The applications have a turnaround time of just 1 or 2 days to get extra staff to the frontlines.
Senior government official Liz Canavan says the work of the gardaí means there's 5,500 more healthcare workers available:
11.42 - Shops:
Brown Thomas Arnotts is to pay staff all their pay and benefits while the stores are shut.
The outlets closed recently because of the coronavirus.
The company says it will avail of the state's wage subsidy scheme and will ensure every employee gets 100 per cent of their salary.
11.17 - Economy:
The Central Bank says that Covid-19 has triggered a severe economic shock, the likes of which has never been seen before.
The bank says the economy could shrink by over 8% of GDP this year and the unemployment rate could peak at 25% in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Ibec is calling for significant new government measures to support vulnerable businesses.
Ibec Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Fergal O’Brien, says not enough has been done:
10.53 - Restrictions:
Health Minister Simon Harris says it is critical people stick to the restrictions, especially as we head into the weekend:
10.30 - Personal Protective Equipment:
Several flights have arrived in Dublin airport this week from China with personal protective equipment, to address the shortage here.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid says even more may be needed:
A ship from China carrying vital personal protective equipment for workers in Northern Ireland was turned back by authorities.
Here's chief nursing officer at the north's Department of Health, Charlotte McArdle:
10.15 - Taxis:
Free Now is offering a 50 per cent taxi-fare reduction for healthcare workers from today.
A new 'medical' booking option will be available on the app to allow staff to avail of the offer.
Free Now will not be taking a commission from drivers for these trips.
10.00 - Vitamins:
Vitamin D can help to fight off the coronavirus, according to a new study.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin say it plays a crucial role in preventing respiratory infections, such as Covid-19.
Vitamin D is produced in the skin by exposing the body to 10 or 15 minutes of sun a day.
One in eight Irish adults under the age of 50 is deficient in it.
09.45 - Medicines:
The main supplier of medicine in Ireland is calling for the creation of dedicated air freight hubs to handle drugs across the EU.
Medicines for Ireland is recommending authorities create hubs to ensure there's enough capacity to cover the needs of the supply chain.
MFI says it doesn't currently anticipate any issues regarding the supply of medicines into the country, despite experiencing an increase in demand.
It says dedicated hubs could act as primary import and export points for ingredients, materials and medical equipment.
09.30 - Restrictions:
The public need to be prepared for restrictions going beyond April 12th.
That's according to infectious diseases specialist with the RCSI Professor Sam McConkey.
While it's impossible to say how long the restrictions will last, he says we can look at the experience in China:
09.15 - Corona brewing company:
The brewing of Corona Beer has been suspended in Mexico after it was declared non-essential under a government order.
A health emergency was declared there this week and the government ordered the suspension of non-essential activities.
Group Modelo said that it will temporarily stop brewing Corona beer and other brands exported to 180 countries as a result.
Corona beer has been the butt of jokes since the outbreak of the virus.
09.00 - Economic recovery:
The Finance Minister says investing in homes, transport and fighting climate change will have to form a crucial part of the economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government is examining ways to accelerate the economy once the public health emergency passes.
The Central Bank has predicted the unemployment rate could reach almost 25 per cent this year and GDP could decrease by over 8 per cent.
Minister Paschal Donohoe says cutbacks will undermine the recovery:
08.50 - Free movies
HBO is encouraging fans to stay at home by releasing over 500 hours of movie and TV programming to watch for free, without a subscription.
Starting today, fans can stream hit shows like The Sopranos and The Wire, along with 20 Warner Brothers' movies.
There will also be a number of documentaries and docu-series available for free.
08.40 - Teenagers
In the UK, parents of teenagers who flout coronavirus lockdown rules should be fined.
According to the Telegraph, Government polling, not released to public, identifies teenagers as 'problem' group when it comes to compliance.
Police officers have been told to fine parents who let their children out during the coronavirus lockdown after it emerged that teenagers are among those who leave their homes the most.
08.20 - Airlines
Ryanair traffic fell by almost half for the month of March.
It dropped by 48 per cent to 5.7 million guests last month due to flight bans and restrictions.
The airline operated over 33 thousand scheduled flights, but had budgeted for 64 thousand.
These flights included a number of rescue and medical flights on behalf of various EU governments.
Ryanair says it expects to carry minimal, if any, traffic for April and May.
08.00 - GP rules
New rules have been approved that will prevent patients going to their GP for certain prescriptions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Simon Harris says it will take some pressure off doctors:
07.40 - Services collapsing
AIB says the Irish service sector has "collapsed" in the past month, with an unprecedented drop in business activity.
The bank's monthly survey of firms in hospitality, transport, leisure and financial services has plunged to its lowest level in 20 years.
Oliver Mangan, chief economist at AIB, says this should be a short, sharp shock.
But he says it's not clear if strong growth levels will return:
07.30 - New hospital UK
In the UK, Prince Charles will officially open the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in London later - which will treat coronavirus patients.
Construction work on the 4-thousand bed site only started last week.
The Prince of Wales will take part in a ceremony via video link.
On Wednesday, he put a message on social media following his own recovery from Covid-19:
07.20 - Post:
Postal workers across the country are helping deliver necessities to people who are self-isolating at home.
The elderly and those who are extremely vulnerable are being asked to stay indoors while they cocoon.
James O'Rourke is a postman in rural Co Carlow, and he says everyone needs to play their part:
07.00 - Northern Ireland:
The First Minister accepts Northern Ireland needs to significantly ramp up its testing for Covid-19.
It's after strong criticism from the Royal College of Nursing and Stormont's health committee about the testing being done up North.
The number of coronavirus cases in the six counties jumped by 85 yesterday, to 774.
And First Minister Arlene Foster acknowledges a better testing regime for the virus is needed:
06.50 - Donations:
Bank of Ireland has donated one million euro to those supporting vulnerable people across the country.
Half of the fund will go towards 13 organisations across the country like food drives, and helping the elderly, while the rest will go into a pot for local groups and charities.
Bank of Ireland's Audrey Nolan says the money will be put to good use:
06.40 - Worldwide figure
The number of coronavirus cases around the world has topped one million.
Figures show more than 51-thousand people have died after getting Covid-19.
The pandemic has exploded in the US and the number of deaths continues to climb in Italy and Spain.
06.30 - Pensioners:
People over the age of 66 are not going to be given access to the COVID-19 welfare payments if they've lost work.
Some had been working to top up their pension and argue it's unfair they can only get the 250 euro a week payment while others get 350 euro.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar however has said they are still getting paid:
06.20 - Restrictions:
The National Public Health Emergency Team meets this morning to assess if restrictions on movement should be extended beyond April 12th.
The death toll from Covid-19 in the Republic has risen to 98, with 13 further patients dying from the virus.
402 new cases have been diagnosed, meaning the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 3,849.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan says this morning's meeting will look at whether restrictions can be eased after Easter Sunday:
06.00 - Local figures:
Laois has one of the lowest numbers of confirmed Coronavirus cases in the country.
There are 16 people with the illness in the county.
Carlow has less than 5 people diagnosed with COVID-19.
Westmeath has 81 patients - a rise of just one from the previous figures - with Offaly increasing by 6 to 46.