Coronavirus: No new deaths and another 20 cases confirmed in the Republic

Decision on opening ‘wet pubs’ will be taken in two weeks, chief medical officer says

No new deaths related to Covid-19 and an additional 20 cases of the disease were reported on Friday.

There have now been 25,845 confirmed coronavirus cases in the State, and 1,763 Covid-19-related deaths to date.

This is the third time this week there has been no additional deaths reported. Thursday saw nine new Covid-19-related fatalities, the highest such daily increase in a number of weeks.

The 20 new cases reported on Friday is the second-highest such increase this week, behind the 36 new cases reported on Tuesday.

The number of daily additional cases has steadily increased as the country continues to return to normal following lockdown restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement on Friday, Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer, reiterated again that the coronavirus was a "highly infectious disease that is still circulating in our communities".

“While we have reason to be positive, we now need to continue to work together towards our collective goal of resuming healthcare services, reopening our children’s schools, and protecting the most vulnerable,” he said.

Positive trend

On Thursday, Dr Glynn said the latest data on coronavirus in Ireland was "the start of something positive". Speaking at a National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) briefing, Dr Glynn said the spread of Covid-19 had stabilised over the past week after the transmission rate had increased over the previous two weeks.

“It is absolutely early days. Last week we were uncertain and worried. The week before we were uncertain and pessimistic. This week we can be uncertain but optimistic,” he said.

Dr Glynn said the latest data on Covid-19 in the State was “the start of something positive and we need to see it continue in the same way over the coming weeks”.

He told the briefing that it was “too early” to decide whether remaining pubs, which do not serve a substantial meal – so-called “wet pubs” – could reopen again on August 10th.

Asked whether he was fearful that reopening pubs first would prevent schools reopening, he said that pubs were “one of the highest risk environments” and that a decision would have to be taken on whether to reopen them in two weeks’ time based on where the virus was then.

“We can’t do anything to jeopardise the overarching priorities,” he said.

Dr Glynn said the country was “absolutely on track for children to go back to school in September” based on how the Covid-19 infection rate has stabilised.

Dr Glynn urged people to keep following public health advice and to stay physically distant over the next five weeks to reduce the rate further “to achieve that aim of getting children back to school”.

Reopening schools was one of three priorities for the NPHET, he said; the others are reopening healthcare services and protecting the most vulnerable in society.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times