683 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Republic

"Now not a time for complacency"
  • Deborah Condon

The number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Republic of Ireland has reached 683, after 126 new cases were confirmed on Friday evening.

Nine new cases were also confirmed in Northern Ireland on Friday afternoon, bringing the total number of cases there to 86.

So far, three people in the Republic and one in the North have died from the virus.

The latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows that of the 438 cases that were notified to it by midnight on March 18, 55% were male, 43% female, and 2% unknown.

The average age of those affected was 44. Some 17% of those affected were over the age of 65, while the rest were under 65. The age group with the highest proportion of people affected (22%) was the 35-44 age group.

Of the 438 people affected overall, 140 (32%) had been hospitalised and 12 (3%) had been admitted to intensive care.

With three deaths so far, the fatality rate currently stands at 0.7%.

Dublin remained the worst affected county, with 225 cases. That is 51% of the country's total. It was followed by 66 cases in Cork and 15 cases both in Limerick and Wicklow.

Commenting on the figures, the Department of Health's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, insisted that "now is not the time for complacency".

"Every citizen who is practicing social distancing, who is taking precautions to limit the spread of this virus, is doing their country a service.

"The Department of Health has issued outdoor social distancing guidelines for everyone to follow. While we encourage people to exercise outside and maintain a healthy lifestyle, social distancing measures will continue to be paramount," he said.

Meanwhile, the department's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, encouraged people to also look after their mental health at this time.

"We are aware that the actions we must take as a nation can lead to individuals feeling isolated and anxious. Be mindful of your mental health during this time, try to keep to a routine, maintain a healthy, balanced diet, and remember social distancing doesn't have to mean social isolation. Stay in touch with family and friends, use technology to stay connected," he commented.

COVID-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person's body fluids (e.g. droplets from coughing or sneezing), or by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of the virus to show. These may include a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and fever (high temperature).

COVID-19 can also cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia and severe breathing difficulties. Some 80% of cases will be mild to moderate, 14% will be more severe, while 6% will be critical.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, people should:
-Practice social distancing and avoid crowded places
-Wash their hands properly and often
-Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, or cough and sneeze into their elbow
-Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
-Stay at home if they are sick to avoid spread of whatever infection they have.

For more information on COVID-19, click here.

*Pictured is the HSE's COVID-19 testing centre at Croke Park, Dublin


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