Coronavirus: 127 new cases as public is urged to ‘reduce social contacts’

No further deaths reported but a second case of Covid-19 is identified in prison system

Members of the public in Dublin on Friday as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Members of the public in Dublin on Friday as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

No further deaths from Covid-19 but a further 127 cases in the State were confirmed on Friday.

This brings to 28,578 the total number of cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and leaves the death toll in the Republic at 1,777.

Of the cases confirmed on Friday, 52 are in Dublin, 13 are in Monaghan, nine are in Tipperary, eight are in Meath, eight are in Wexford, eight are in Roscommon and the remaining 29 are located in Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Offaly, Waterford, Westmeath and Wicklow.

Around 80 per cent of the cases are people under 45 years of age, while 70 of the confirmed cases are men and 57 are women.

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer, said while the number of people in critical care “remains stable”, an additional eight people have been hospitalised in the last 24 hours.

“If cases continue to rise we will see an inevitable increase in the number of people hospitalised. We all have a role to play in preventing that from happening,” Dr Glynn said.

“This weekend it is vital that people play their part by decreasing social contacts. Do not drop your guard just because you are meeting people close to you.”

Earlier, it was confirmed that a second inmate in the Irish prison system has tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after his arrest for minor offences.

Prison officials were aware the man had symptoms of the virus before his arrival at Cloverhill Prison and sources say they are confident they have contained any outbreak.

The 28-year-old accused was arrested by gardaí in Coolock earlier this week for a series of minor offences including criminal damage, theft and road traffic offences.

After being taken to Coolock Garda Station he informed gardaí he had recently returned from a trip abroad. He also started to display symptoms of Covid-19, leading gardaí to order a test for the virus.

He was tested for the virus before being transported to Cloverhill Prison by officers in full PPE gear. He was tested again in the back of the prison van before going into a 14-day quarantine period in a designated area of the prison, as is standard for all new committals.

The day after his admission the test came back positive. The man remains in Cloverhill and does not require hospitalisation.

An Irish Prison Service spokesman said it does not comment on individual Covid-19 cases and referred queries to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

The man is the second person to test positive for the virus in the prison system.

Last week a female prisoner tested positive shortly after her arrival at the Dochas Centre women’s prison. She was also in the mandatory 14 day quarantine period at the time and prison authorities believe no other inmates were infected.

Until last week, Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe to keep Covid-19 out of its prison population, despite several prison officers contracting the virus in the community.

This was achieved through the imposition of strict infection control measures including a complete ban on visiting which was only recently lifted.

Other measures include segregation of symptomatic prisoners or prisoners awaiting tests in a designated area of Cloverhill and the cocooning of elderly or vulnerable prisoners.

Prison sources say if the current resurgence of the virus continues in the community, the ban on visiting may be temporarily reintroduced.

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