Coronavirus: Seven further deaths and 418 new cases confirmed in the State

Thirty per cent of eligible population given one dose of Covid-19 vaccine

Dr Tony Holohan chief medical officer warned people to remain ‘vigilant’ and avoid gathering in large groups, as restrictions continued to be eased.  File photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan chief medical officer warned people to remain ‘vigilant’ and avoid gathering in large groups, as restrictions continued to be eased. File photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

There have been seven further deaths relating to Covid-19 and 418 new cases of the virus confirmed in the State.

Five of the deaths notified on Wednesday took place in April, with one in both February and January.

There have now been a total of 4,915 Covid-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic, and 251,087 confirmed cases.

The median age of those who died was 82, with a 67-year-old the youngest of the Covid-19 linked deaths.

Of the 418 cases confirmed on Wednesday, just under three quarters were among those under 45 years of age. The median age was 30.

Some 167 of the cases were located in Dublin, followed by 39 in Cork, 32 in Donegal, 29 in Kildare, and 22 in Meath.

There were 137 Covid-19 patients in hospitals at 8am on Wednesday, with 18 admissions in the last 24 hours. Thirty-seven of the Covid-19 patients were currently in intensive care.

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, warned people to remain “vigilant” and avoid gathering in large groups, as restrictions continued to be eased in the coming weeks.

“Throughout this pandemic we have seen outbreaks and clusters of disease as a result of social events such as funerals, wakes and birthday parties,” he said.

“When you are planning to meet someone, remember that outdoors is safer for everybody. And when you meet up, stay at a 2m distance, keep to a small group and avoid crowded areas,” Dr Holohan said.

If people followed these standard public health measures the risk of spreading the virus would be minimised, and the incidence rate kept low, he said.

Vaccines

Latest figures show 30 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose.

The Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday that more than 1.6 million doses had been administered, as of May 3rd.

In total over 2.1 million doses had been delivered to the State, with a portion of these held back as a buffer to ensure sufficient supply for second doses.

To date, 1.3 million doses of Pfizer have been supplied, 566,000 doses of AstraZeneca, 186,000 doses of Moderna, and 26,400 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

India

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said a further 500 oxygen concentrators and two oxygen generators donated to India arrived at Delhi airport on Tuesday.

The shipment follows an earlier donation of 700 oxygen concentrators, in an effort to help the country as it battles a wave of Covid-19 that has crippled its healthcare system.

Minister of State for overseas aid Colm Brophy said the department had received a “phenomenal” amount of interest from Irish people, seeking advice on how they could help the relief effort.

“We have received queries from people wishing to make financial donations, as well as specialist medical suppliers wishing to donate equipment,” he said.

While the department said it was unable to direct donations to any organisation, it added the Indian Red Cross was leading the response to the crisis on the ground.

Mandatory hotel quarantine

Earlier on Wednesday, the French ambassador to Ireland has said the State’s mandatory hotel quarantine system is too restrictive, unnecessarily harsh and is preventing people from travelling for exceptional reasons, the French ambassador to Ireland has said.

Vincent Guérend said the French embassy had received “large numbers of desperate calls” in recent weeks from Ireland’s French community, many of whom need to travel to France for medical reasons including cancer and cardiac care.

The ambassador told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that mandatory hotel quarantine was preventing those who need to commute between Ireland and France from travelling. There are between 25,000-30,000 French nationals living in Ireland, he said.

“We’re not speaking for normal travel, it’s not business as usual, people go for really compelling reasons, for severe medical treatment, for cancer, for heart disease and we believe the mandatory hotel quarantine prevents almost all travelling and that the exception mechanism is really insufficient.”

Mr Guérand called for the measures to be lifted within weeks rather than months to allow more exceptional cases to travel.

Ireland is currently the only EU member state with such extensive quarantine measures for travellers from other EU countries. Last month, the European Commission told the Government that national public health interests could be protected with less restrictive measures and that “clear and operational exceptions for essential travel should be ensured” while the measures remain in place. The Government is due to respond to concerns laid out by the commission regarding mandatory quarantine later on Wednesday.

There are more than 70 countries on the Government’s red travel list for mandatory hotel quarantine including EU nations France, Italy, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg.

Also speaking on RTÉ radio, a French national living in Ireland with his wife and four children spoke of how his father, who has cancer, is expected to die in the coming days.

“I’m expected to bury my father and then spend two weeks alone in a hotel room,” he said. “I am also concerned that you can’t appeal before arrival. It’s very stressful, I really think it’s inhuman.”