Coronavirus: Further 16 deaths in Ireland as confirmed cases approach 24,000

Greatest number of cases still concentrated in Dublin followed by Kildare and Cork

Dr Tony Holohan has confirmed that the rise in positive Covid-19 tests reported on May 14th - 426 cases reported - is an inflated figure as one hospital did not report an accumulation of positive tests from mid-March through to May. Video: RTÉ

 

A further 16 people have died from Covid-19 in the State bringing the total to 1,518. The total number of confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland is now 23,956 following the announcement of another 129 cases on Friday.

As of midnight on Wednesday, May 13th it was found that 3,062 of the confirmed cases had been hospitalised and of those, 387 were admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Some 57 per cent of the confirmed cases were male while 42 per cent were female.

Dublin continues to have the highest number of cases in the country at 11,557, followed by Kildare at 1,352 and then Cork with 1,256.

The median age of confirmed cases is 48 while 7,427 cases are associated withhealthcare workers.

Validation of this data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has also resulted in the denotification of four deaths. This is reflected in the total of 1,518.

“As we ease restrictions that were implemented in recent weeks, the core message remains the same, ‘stay at home’ where possible and follow public health behaviours to limit the spread; hand washing, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing,” Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said.

“I urge everyone to remember how easily this virus can spread, how quickly we could lose the progress that the country has worked so hard to achieve.”

A spokeswoman for the Mater said at all times the hospital had ‘provided the information that the HSE required and met all legal requirements to report infectious diseases.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
A spokeswoman for the Mater said at all times the hospital had ‘provided the information that the HSE required and met all legal requirements to report infectious diseases.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Mater Hospital

Earlier on Friday, The Irish Times learned that the Mater hospital in Dublin is the unidentified hospital said to have reported hundreds of cases of Covid-19 up to six weeks late.

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The 244 cases from the occupational health department of the Mater cover the period March 16th to May 12th, according to an internal Department of Health note.

The hospital, which is the main infectious diseases hospital in the State, insists it has complied with all its reporting requirements though it says the data may not have been “accurately captured”.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said that he had spoken to the chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid, and said that the “HSE are investigating this situation”. He wouldn’t comment further until he received the report of that investigation, he said, but added that the HSE had written to all hospitals to remind them of their reporting obligations.

“This is a matter for Paul Reid to investigate and to provide assurance to me and the department and that work is underway now.”

A hospital reported hundreds of cases of the virus this week, though some date back to mid-March, Thursday’s briefing of the National Public Health Emergency Team was told.

At the briefing, Dr Holohan said NPHET had only just learned that one hospital had reported several hundred cases of Covid-19.

Dr Holohan, who declined to name the hospital, said NPHET was trying to establish the full facts.

He declined to say whether there would be consequences for the hospital and said he did not know whether the contacts of the cases involved had been traced.

The Mater says contact tracing on all the 244 cases has been completed.

The extra cases accounted for more than half of the 426 new cases of the disease reported by NPHET on Thursday.

Contacted by The Irish Times, a Mater spokeswoman said: “The Mater Hospital has reported all cases of Covid-19 positive results to the relevant authorities on a daily basis. At all times the Mater Hospital provided the information that the HSE required and met all legal requirements to report infectious diseases.

“All of this information is correct and up to date. We are working with the HSE to understand why the provided data may not have been accurately captured.

“The Mater Hospital has also carried out comprehensive contact tracing on every single member of staff who tested positive for Covid-19 through our occupational health department in line with best practice.”

More than 300 staff at the Mater have tested positive for Covid-19 and a further 1,500 have self-isolated following contact tracing.

Under the regulations for disease reporting, notification should be made by a medical practitioner “as soon as he becomes aware or suspects that a person on whom he is in professional attendance is suffering from or is the carrier of an infectious disease”.

In addition, there is a requirement to give “immediate preliminary notification” to a Medical Officer of Health in the case of certain specified notifiable diseases, including Covid-19.