There is no reason to assume that lockdown restrictions will be lifted on May 5, according to the Chief Medical Officer.
Ireland recorded a further 44 deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland in the past 24 hours, with a total of 730 across the country.
Despite the first publication of the numbers of people who have fully recovered from the virus around 55%, at 9,233, medical experts warned against public complacency, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “It should not be a foregone conclusion that restrictions will be lifted in May.”
8,377 of those recovered at home in the community, and 856 of those recovered were discharged from hospital.
Dr Holohan said although the numbers do give encouragement, it was largely unsurprising, as Ireland’s hospitalisation rates among other factors show that the state is having a similar experience as other European countries.
“We want to keep going with the measures that we have, to make further progress with this epidemic, we want to drive down the reproductive number as low as possible.
“That we get the disease to a point whereby it is behaving in the ways that we want it to, as we approach the 5th of May that gives us an opportunity to consider, possibly lifting restrictions, but we’re not at a point yet where that’s the case.
“There can’t be any taking the foot off the gas, as we approach the 5th of May, because that’s simply going to contribute to further spread and is likely to impact our ability to be able to consider measures.”
It was also noted that the demand for referrals for tests had also decreased, now approaching around 1,500 a day on average.
Dr Cillian De Gascun noted that, the National Public Health Emeregncy Team (NPHET) will discuss case definition and criteria for testing “soon and maybe make it more sensitive”.
“We are currently seeing around a 20% positivity rate in tests, and we want to drive that down and want to find every case and test more.”
He added that as the backlog in testing is now cleared, no Irish tests have been sent to Germany this week, but will retain the relationship on a contingency basis.
Attention has now turned to nursing homes and other residential care settings, which has now reached a total of 502 deaths from residential settings, 427 of those in nursing homes.
Testing in homes has been ramped up since Friday, after increased pressure from the sector and the public, and the high profile resignation of a member of the Irish Medical Council, who alleged that those in nursing homes had been left behind by the government.
Teams are now visiting homes across the country, where 176 clusters have been identified, to test residents and staff, as well as deliveries of over 1 million items of PPE and other medical equipment have begun to roll out.
Dr Holohan admitted it had been a “challenge” with nursing homes in the pandemic, but stood by the efforts made by the Department of Health.
“The spread of this infection in nursing homes is a different experience from that the whole population has had,” he said.
“We have to intensify the efforts in relation to nursing homes, arising from recommendations to the NPHET, it is a continued effort in the HSE to implement those measures, and we’re intensifying our efforts to understand exactly what’s happening, and to also intensify the testing regime, as it applies to both nursing home residents, and staff, starting with those that are challenged by existing infection and moving on to those as new cases might arise.
“We’re hopeful that we can slow the spread of this and those environments, and we think we have seen some evidence of that in terms of the numbers of clusters that are being reported, but until such time as we’ve extinguished or limited the transmission, we’re going to continue with those efforts.”
From The Irish Examiner.