'It indicates we have suppressed Covid-19' - No new deaths today

By Juno McEnroe
Political Correspondent

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today reported no new coronavirus deaths, a first since the pandemic spread to Ireland and closed down the country.

It means the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland stays at 1,606.

Members of the emergency health team said there were still an extra 59 cases reported, bringing the total to 24,698.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said there had now been 394 people in intensive care, and 49 remained in those facilities. There was only one new admission to ICU in the last 24 hours.

“We haven't had zero for some time,” he said of the fact there was no death.

The development comes amid debate about whether the social distancing rules should be eased further.

Dr Holohan said if people perceived the risk to be lower, their behaviour may change.

He said that measures that would still protect the country were keeping up hygiene, including washing hands, and also contacting a GP where someone had symptoms.

Asked about any possible reduction of the two-metre distancing rule, the CMO said all advice remained under constant review.

He said two metres was “a reasonable compromise given where we are”.

This comes despite a proposed meeting over the issue between the CMO and government ministers later this week.

    Today’s data from the HPSC, as of midnight, Saturday 23 May (24,593 cases), reveals:

  • 57% are female and 43% are male
  • the median age of confirmed cases is 48 years
  • 3,225 cases (13%) have been hospitalised
  • Of those hospitalised, 394 cases have been admitted to ICU
  • 7,842 cases are associated with healthcare workers
  • Dublin has the highest number of cases at 11,876 (48% of all cases) followed by Cork with 1,438 cases (6%) and then Kildare with 1,390 cases (6%)
  • Of those for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 59%, close contact accounts for 38%, travel abroad accounts for 3%

Dr Holohan said: “The number of new cases and reported deaths over the past week indicates that we have suppressed Covid-19 as a country.

"It has taken strict measures to achieve this. It will take another week to see any effect on disease incidence that might arise from the easing of measures in Phase 1.”

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “According to research conducted on behalf of the Department of Health, 61% of people think it likely that Ireland will experience a second wave of Covid-19.

“While NPHET continues to monitor the spread of Covid-19, both here in Ireland and internationally, ultimately it is the collective behaviours of each individual which will determine the course of this disease.

"The importance of regular hand washing, physical distance and cough/sneeze etiquette cannot be underestimated.”

Dr Siobhán Ni Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and HSE Integrated Care Lead, said: “If a person is experiencing symptoms of any condition, including symptoms associated with conditions for which there are screening programmes, it is important to make early contact with you doctor and not await a routine screening appointment.

"GP clinics have remained open throughout the pandemic and will continue to be available to the public in these circumstances.”