Another 4,208 PCR-confirmed Covid cases reported as nursing home restrictions to be eased

HSE publishes new guidance that will allow one support person unrestricted visiting access

Another 4,208 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the State, while 6,410 more people have registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.

These latest Covid case figures were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Tuesday afternoon.

As of 8am on Tuesday, 624 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 66 were in ICU.

Meanwhile, four further people who had previously recently tested positive for Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, the North's Department of Health said on Tuesday.


Another 4,622 confirmed cases of the virus have also been notified in the North in its latest 24-hour reporting period. On Tuesday morning, there were 337 Covid-19 inpatients in the North’s hospitals, with 21 in intensive care.

Nursing home visits

New guidance has been published by the HSE that will further ease restrictions on visits to residents of nursing homes from next Tuesday.

The new guidelines for nursing home visits will allow one support person who has been nominated by a resident unrestricted visiting access to that resident over the course of a day.

The nominated support person will be in addition to, and not instead of, general visitors.

The guidelines state that the minimum level of visiting for a resident should normally be daily visits by up to two people at one time and that “even in a Covid-19 outbreak [at a facility] a minimum level of visiting must be facilitated”.

In the event of an outbreak, the nominated support person “should continue to have reasonable access for some part of each day if the nominated support person is aware of the risk to them, is prepared to accept that risk and to follow all necessary infection prevention and control measures”.

If limits on indoor visits were required during an outbreak, other forms of communication would be facilitated, “including through window visits, outdoor visits, video calls etc”, the guidelines state.

Visitors may also visit residents in multi-occupancy rooms in their rooms from next week.

Any limitations on visiting during an outbreak should be reviewed twice each week, the guidelines say. There would also be recommendations to visitors to self-test using antigen tests.

The guidance will come into effect on Tuesday, February 8th.

‘Important milestone’

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has welcomed the newly revised visitation guidelines.

Chief executive of the NHI Tadhg Daly said he hoped the easing of visitor restrictions would represent a "hugely important milestone for residents and broader society as we look to move on from Covid-19".

“The further easing represents a very welcome and positive development,” he said.

Mr Daly said meaningful engagement with family and friends of residents in nursing homes was “vital” to support residents’ wellbeing and health and the guidelines “represented a move to a pre-Covid environment within our nursing homes”.

“While outbreaks are still occurring, the vaccination rollout has greatly reduced the risk of severe disease. The guidelines offer better scope for visits to be facilitated if Covid-positive cases are within a nursing home,” he said.

Illness benefit

Also on Tuesday, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys confirmed that the Government had formally approved the extension of the enhanced illness benefit for Covid-19 until the end of June.

The €350-per-week payment is designed to support workers who are unable to work due to having to isolate as a result of a Covid-19 diagnosis or other Covid-related issues. In general, the benefit is paid for up to seven days but, depending on the severity of a Covid-19 infection, it can be paid for longer.

Announcing the extension, Ms Humphreys said: “The enhanced illness benefit (EIB) has been a vital support for so many workers and the self-employed throughout this pandemic.

“The fact that we have supported over 374,500 people [to date through the benefit] truly demonstrates the importance of this scheme.

“The current payment rate of €350 per week was initially due to cease later this month.

“However, with Covid-19 still circulating in our communities, I believe it is important that we extend the payment until the end of June.”

Ms Humphreys added: “My message to anyone who contracts Covid-19 or is displaying symptoms is to self-isolate immediately.

“EIB will be made available to you and the easiest way to apply is via”

Additional reporting: PA