Coronavirus: 358 new cases and 18 further deaths reported in the State

Northern Ireland records 112 more positive cases of coronavirus but no further deaths

 National Ambulance Service ‘pop up’ Covid-19 test centre at Crumlin, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

National Ambulance Service ‘pop up’ Covid-19 test centre at Crumlin, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

There were 358 new cases and 18 further deaths reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Tuesday.

Of the deaths reported on Tuesday, seven occurred in April, three in March, three in February, three in January and one last year. The median age of those who died was 85 years and the age range was between 46 and 102 years. It brings to 4,803 the number of Covid-19 related deaths and to 241,684 the total number of cases in the State.

Of Tuesday’s cases 166 are in Dublin, 39 in Donegal, 16 in Kildare, 13 in Offaly, 12 in Meath, 12 in Limerick and the remaining 100 cases are spread across 18 other counties. The five-day moving average of new cases is down to 396.

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 is 131.7 nationally with the highest levels in Offaly (269.4)and Dublin (210.2) and the lowest in Kilkenny (16.1) and Sligo (21.4).

The latest figures show there are 205 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 48 in ICU. There have been 11 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The most recent vaccine figures show that 1,063,666 doses have been given in the State, as of Sunday ,consisting of 749,450 first doses and 314,216 second doses. The figures is an increase of 5,272 on doses administered the previous day.

Meanwhile the North’s Minister for Health has warned it could take five to ten years to return healthcare waiting lists to an acceptable level in Northern Ireland even if the necessary funding is made available.

Robin Swann said that to do so would require, at minimum, a recurrent source of earmarked funding and an incremental, year-on-year increasing allocation.

“Tragically,” the Minister said, “as it stands I cannot make any sustainable inroads into improving the waiting list position.”

Mr Swann outlined his immediate plans to rebuild health and social care services in the North in an oral statement to the Assembly on Tuesday.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic had had a “significant impact” on “our already appalling waiting lists” and had “highlighted serious long-established fragilities in our health and social care system, especially in terms of staffing capacity”.

He told ministers that the scale of the problem as such that there was “grave danger” of undermining the essential feature of the National Health Service, that it was free at the point of access. “With ever growing waiting lists,” he said, “I would question whether all of our citizens have adequate access to the health services they need?”

However Mr Swann said he was “absolutely determined to put this right” but needed the support of the Assembly and his colleagues in the Northern Executive in order to do so.

To tackle waiting lists, he said, more staff were needed, but this required sustained funding. “What is really needed is a multi-year budget, and unfortunately the Executive hasn’t received this from Westminster,” he said.

“I fully accept that the Executive has limited room for manoeuvre in budget terms,” he said, given that such decisions were made in London, but he added that he could not think of a more pressing issue which “cries out for action.

“It is a daily rebuke to the standing of this House and to the reputation of politics,” he said. “It leaves thousands and thousands of our people in avoidable pain - our fellow citizens, our neighbours. We owe it to them to do much, much better.”

The Minister for Health outlined the scale of waiting lists in the North. At the end of December 2020 more than 320,000 patients were waiting for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment, more than 105,000 were waiting for inpatient or day case treatment, and about 145,000 for a diagnostic test.

The “vast majority” of cancer patients who experienced a delay in treatment from January to March this year have since had their treatment completed or have a confirmed plan in place.

Detailed plans, he said, are being finalised on waiting times and cancer care and will be published shortly for public consultation, as will a review of urgent and emergency care.

On Tuesday Northern Ireland recorded 112 more positive cases of coronavirus. There were no further fatalities, leaving the death toll reported by the North’s Department of Health at 2,129.

A total of 77 people with Covid-19 are being treated in the North’s hospitals, with seven in intensive care.