Three deaths and 474 new Covid-19 cases have been reported by Nphet

Half of 3,500 housebound adults have received first Covid-19 vaccine

 Medical personnel prepare a Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19. Photograph: Bienvenido Velasco/EPA

Medical personnel prepare a Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19. Photograph: Bienvenido Velasco/EPA

 

A further three deaths of Covid-19 patients have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). This brings to 4,899 the total number of deaths in the pandemic.

Nphet also reported 474 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 248,326 the total number of cases in the Republic.

Of the new cases, 167 were in Dublin, 39 in Kildare, 37 in Cork, 36 in Donegal and 29 in Meath, with the remaining 166 cases spread across all other counties

The 14-day incidence of the disease now stands at 125 cases per 100,000 people nationally. Donegal has the highest county incidence, followed by Kildare. Kerry has the lowest incidence.

The median age of cases is 32 years and 71 per cent are under 45.

On Thursday morning, 155 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 44 were in ICU. There were 14 additional hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.

 Up to Tuesday, 1,452,434 doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered: 1,041,284 people first doses and 411,150 second doses.

Meanwhile, just over half of the 3,500 housebound adults referred for Covid-19 vaccination have received their first injection while 500 have received a second dose, the Dáil has been told.

Minister of State for Health Mary Butler said the National Ambulance Service providing this house call vaccination service is dealing with 400 appointments a week.

Concerns have been repeatedly raised about elderly patients some in their 90s and over 100, who have received no communication about a date for vaccination.

Ms Butler, who has responsibility for mental health and older people said she wanted to assure those who are waiting to receive a vaccine that the HSE will contact them within three weeks and “this is week one”.

She added that of the 3,500 housebound adults referred for vaccination through the National Ambulance Service “not everyone may be assessed as suitable” to receive the injection. The number of ambulances involved has doubled from 10 to 20.

Speaking during a weekly Dáil update on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Butler also highlighted the huge increase in referrals for eating disorders and self-harm. The Minister said she was very aware of the increase in such cases. “Four out of every five referrals are young girls,” she said as she confirmed €3.94 million in funding to create three new teams to deal with eating disorders and provide additional staff for three existing teams.

Fine Gael TD Colm Burke called for the HSE to explain the “totally incorrect” initial figure of 1,600 housebound people requiring vaccination, a number “that was so out of sync on what was happening on the ground”.

But the Minister told him that registration remained open and GPs continued to register their patients. She said there may have been cases were patients did not initially sign up but did so at a later date.

Sinn Féin spokesman on mental health Mark Ward called for a national review of child and adolescent mental health cases in the wake of revelations that 1,500 children in south Kerry had allegedly received adult doses of medication.

He said the gravity of the alleged breaches was so serious and had gone on for four years that it required a national review but Ms Butler said it was important to wait for the completion of the local review which will take 16 weeks.

Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú highlighted “an absolutely acute” case of a 13-year-old girl in hospital for seven weeks for an eating disorder but with no bed in a specialist facility. The Minister said he should send on the details but stressed that all decisions are made from a clinical perspective.

She also said that from January to last week “there has been a 98 per cent reduction in cases among healthcare workers, a 99 per cent reduction in cases of those aged over 85 and 100 per cent reduction in the incidence in nursing homes.

“For the third week in a row there have been no cases associated with outbreaks in nursing homes” and the number of visits to nursing homes would increase from two a week to four from May 4th.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry referred to a media report that 17 nursing homes had not applied the two visits a week policy and blamed a shortage of staff.

Fianna Fail Clare TD Cathal Crowe who last week highlighted the case of bedbound 101-year-old Margaret Morgan who had not received the vaccine, asked for the Minister to consider a portal to allow relatives to track the progress of patients for vaccination.

Labour leader Alan Kelly called for a strategy to be developed to help elderly people to interact again with society “because they have lost so much”. Mr Kelly suggested that a month could be set aside in December or January for a programme of events for such interaction and integration.

The Minister said that €13.5 million had been provided to offer surge capacity for mental health services but Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said that Ireland spends less than 7 per cent of health budget on mental health when the international standard is 12 per cent.