A further 23 people with COVID-19 have died

Almost 215,000 tests have been carried out
  • Deborah Condon

A further 23 people with COVID-19 have died in the Republic.

Three deaths that were previously classed as COVID deaths have been denotified, so the number of deaths now stands at 1,339.

A further 211 new cases of the virus have also been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases here to 21,983.

As of midnight on May 4, 214,761 tests have been carried out. In the last week alone, 61,707 tests have been carried out, with 2,280 of these positive. This gives a positivity rate of 3.7%.

"The positivity rate reducing is a good sign. Combined with the high level of testing we are now undertaking, this gives us confidence that we are on a path towards suppression of the disease," commented Dr Cillian De Gascun, chair of the National Public Health Emergency Team's (NPHET) expert advisory group.

Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that of the 21,659 cases reported to is as of midnight on May 3, 2,879 (13%) have been hospitalised and of these, 369 have been admitted to ICU.

Some 6,293 cases of the virus are associated with healthcare workers.

Speaking about the latest figures, the Department of Health's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said that as Ireland moves towards an easing of restrictions, "it is crucial that we preserve the progress our country has made in recent weeks".

"This is a highly infectious disease. It thrives in crowds. It has the potential to rapidly spread to levels that our health service will find difficult to respond to.

"While we plan how to safely emerge from recent restrictions, none of us should forget that the virus is still in our community. Those who get infected have the same risk of serious illness as they did at the beginning of this pandemic," he commented.

Meanwhile, today marked the first day that those cocooning could leave their homes since March 28. Those over the age of 70 and in medically vulnerable groups can leave their homes for exercise as long as they stay within 5km of their homes and maintain social distancing at all times.

They have been advised to take short walks and in Dublin, parks will be reserved for them between the hours of 1.30 and 3.30pm every day.

Everybody else is also allowed to travel 5km from their homes for exercise. Until now, they have had to stay within 2km of their homes.

Phase one of the Government's plan to reopen society and business is set to begin on May 18. Details of this plan can be viewed here.

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.

Current restrictions in relation to COVID-19 are now in place until May 18. As part of these restrictions, 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 5km of your home.

All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, while those over the age of 70 and medically vulnerable people, who had been cocooning since March 28, can now leave their house for exercise, as long as they stay within 5km of their home and maintain social distancing at all times.

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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