A further 17 patients with COVID-19 (coronavirus) have died in the Republic, brining the total number of deaths here to 71.
According to the Department of Health, 13 males and four females died today, with an average age of 84 years. Eight of these patients had an underlying health condition.
Eight of the deaths occurred in the east, three in the south, three in the west and three in the north west.
A further 325 new cases were also confirmed, bringing the total number of cases here to 3,235.
The department noted that as of midnight on March 30, 30,213 tests had been carried out nationwide. Over the past week, the positivity rates for tests carried out increased from 6% to 15%, "as per the objective of our new case definition".
Last week, new testing criteria were introduced. Patients have to display two major symptoms of COVID-19 - a fever and either a cough or shortness of breath - and belong to a priority group.
Priority groups are contacts of confirmed cases, healthcare staff and vulnerable groups.
Meanwhile the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has made a number of new recommendations:
-To focus contact tracing on suspect cases within prioritised groups
-Contact tracing to encompass the period from 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms given the risk of asymptomatic transmission
-In response to infections in long-term residential care and homecare settings, NPHET will work with the HSE to identify a number of measures which can be taken to strengthen support to staff and providers of nursing home care.
"These measures that we have recommended should significantly enhance the preparedness and response to cases and outbreaks in nursing homes and other residential settings.
"As we have said from the beginning, our efforts must be focused on protecting the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and these recommendations seek to achieve this," commented the department's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan.
Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows that of the 2,677 cases reported to it as of midnight, March 29, there were a total of 118 clusters of COVID-19, involving 494 cases. Some 22% of these clusters were located in private homes, 20% in nursing homes and 18% in hospitals.
A total of 703 cases had been hospitalised and 113 had been admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). Overall, almost one in four cases involved healthcare workers.
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 fever, a persistent cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
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.
New restrictions in relation to COVID-19 are now in place until April 12. Until then, everybody is being asked to stay at home, except in specific circumstances. These include:
-Travelling to and from work in circumstances where the work is an essential health, social care or other essential service that cannot be done from home
-To shop for essential food and household goods
-To attend medical appointments
-For vital family reasons, such as caring for children or elderly people
-To take brief individual exercise within your locality, which may include children from your household, however this should be within 2km of your home.
All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or living unit are prohibited.
Those over the age of 70 and medically vulnerable people are also being cocooned. For more information on this, click here.
ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, is running a national support line for older people facing difficulties due to COVID-19. The support line is open every day from 8am to 8pm, call 0818 222 024.
For more information on COVID-19, click here.
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