Department of Health reports no further Covid-19 deaths and 56 new cases

Minister for Health warns more deaths likely to follow spike in confirmed cases

People pass graffiti in Dublin City centre. Photograph: Tom Honan

People pass graffiti in Dublin City centre. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

There were no further deaths of people from Covid-19 but an additional 56 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in the State, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said on Monday evening.

The latest figures see the total number of deaths in the Republic remain at 1,774, while the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 27,313.

Of the cases confirmed on Monday, 35 were associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case, while 12 cases have been identified as community transmission.

Some 26 of Monday’s cases were in Kildare, 13 in Dublin and the rest of the 17 cases are in Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Laois, Longford, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Westmeath and Wicklow.

The news follows the reporting of an additional 266 cases over the weekend.

In Northern Ireland, 39 new cases had been confirmed in the last 24 hours, the North’s department of health said on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 6,430.

No further coronavirus-related deaths were recorded over the weekend in the North, with the total number of such fatalities reported by the department remaining at 558.

Earlier, the Minister for Health said he expects an increase in the number of deaths and hospitalisations as a result of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases.

Stephen Donnelly said the daily number of cases was increasing and, therefore, the fatality rate was expected to increase.

“If you look at the daily number of cases, it is going up,” Mr Donnelly told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland. “If you look at the sad reality, there can be a time lag between cases and hospitalisations... it stands to reason that there will be a fatality rate following that.”

It is understood a further 18 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed associated with an outbreak at a mushroom processing facility in Golden, Co Tipperary.

Local HSE officials told TDs of the new cases on Sunday evening. Added to the 11 positive tests from workers at Walsh Mushrooms last week, the total linked to the outbreak now stands at 29.

In a statement on Monday evening, Walsh Mushrooms said that blanket testing of all available staff was completed over the weekend “and we are awaiting an update on the results from the HSE”.

Staff will be retested a week, and then a fortnight, after their first swab. However, the company also raised concerns about how many of those infected showed few, if any, symptoms.

“The level of asymptomatic positive results is a concern for the business. As a business, we have stringent measures in place to control Covid-19 since March and we have had no incidence of Covid-19 up to this point.”

The plant is being deep cleaned and control measures are being reviewed, although “essential maintenance” is continuing. “The safety, wellbeing and protection of our employees, their families and the local community is our number one priority,” the company said.

Local Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill said he was “happy that testing was completed efficiently and quickly”.

Further restrictions to protect the elderly and other vulnerable groups from Covid-19 were considered on Monday by the NPHET amid “deep concern” about a sharp increase in confirmed cases.

Sources indicated that the team would consider potentially “significant” new measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr Glynn briefed Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan on Sunday and is understood to have outlined concerns about house parties and socialising being responsible for the growing number of cases.

Senior Government sources said there was growing anxiety about “Covid fatigue” among the public now people were travelling around the country after being advised to holiday in the State and could also visit other peoples’ homes.

Dr Glynn warned that every county had experienced some new Covid-19 cases in the last fortnight and that this would need to be taken into account by Nphet.

Mr Donnelly said there were no plans to bring in local restrictions in any other part of the country. Restrictions in Kildare, Laois and Offaly are due to be lifted on Sunday, he said.

He also said the outbreaks in nursing homes were being addressed in a new report which will be published on Tuesday.

He said NPHET was examining a “massive” increase in testing in direct provision centres and in meat processing plants and there is a review on testing turnaround times which he admitted has become “strained”.

Mr Donnelly said the scenes from the Berlin D2 bar, where videos on social media showed a barman pouring spirits into the mouths of customers, at the weekend were a “slap in the face for everyone who is trying to suppress the virus”.

But he said of the 3,000 licensed premises that have been allowed to open, there have been just 27 breaches of the Covid-19 guidelines and the “vast majority of men and women in the country are doing what is right”.

Berlin bar co-owner Jay Bourke said the scenes at the bar had left him “very unhappy indeed and embarrassed” but having reviewed four hours of CCTV footage, he said the incident involved was an aberration and the crowd had been generally well behaved. The barman had got carried away, he said.

Infectious diseases expert Professor Paddy Mallon has called for “swift, reactive and responsive” measures for people breaking Covid-19 guidelines on social distancing.

Prof Mallon said images from the bar had been “very disappointing” to the general public and to health care workers. The reaction had been summed up well by hospitality sector representatives who said that they had been let down.

“In general we just need an element of refocus, we need to maintain the level of engagement over a long period of time to make clear the focus.”