Lowest number of deaths since March 27

Emergency workers warn of "triple threat"
  • Deborah Condon

A further four people with COVID-19 have died in the Republic, the lowest number of daily reported deaths since March 27.

The total number of deaths now stands at 1,547.

A further 88 cases of the virus have also been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases here to 24,200.

"On the first day of Ireland moving into phase 1 of reopening, we have experienced the lowest number of deaths since March 27. We have suppressed the virus and limited its impact on public health. We need to sustain this in the weeks and phases ahead," commented the Department of Health's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan.

As part of phase 1, people can now exercise up to 5km from their homes with up to three people from outside of their household, as long as social distancing is maintained.

"I would urge anyone who can, to take advantage of this in order to improve mental health and wellbeing," commented consultant psychiatrist and HSE integrated care lead, Dr Siobhan Ni Bhriain.

For more information on phase 1 of the Government's Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business, click here.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, emergency nurses and doctors insisted that hospitals and emergency departments (EDs) must not become overcrowded again in the coming weeks, like they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their first ever joint statement, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) warned that the "problems of the past" could emerge again as health services start to ramp up non-COVID activities.

They pointed out that overcrowding and understaffing could lead to an increased risk of infection, poor patient outcomes and unsafe workplaces.

According to INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, overcrowding, understaffing and COVID-19 "pose a triple threat to patients and staff alike".

"ED and hospital overcrowding is always unacceptable, but it is exceptionally dangerous when added with the risk of COVID-19 infection. We have never seen trolley overcrowding figures as low as the past few weeks. We must build on that and resist any return to the problems of the past," she commented.

The joint statement calls for a number of measures to be implemented to stop a return to ED overcrowding. These include:
joint statement calls for measures to counteract this, including:
-Retention of access to private hospitals until a vaccine is secured
- Immigration and travel priority for migrant health professionals
- A commitment that no recruitment embargoes will apply to doctors or nurses
- Extra priority and decision-making powers in the community to avoid unnecessary ED referrals.

"The healthcare service will gradually return to providing more non-COVID-19 services. We are concerned that, without action, conditions may worsen, and the problems of the past may return," Ms Ní Sheaghdha and IAEM president, Dr Emily O'Connor, added.


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