Six more deaths from COVID-19

Govt deal with private hospitals to end in June
  • Deborah Condon

A further six people with COVID-19 have died in the Republic, bringing the total number of deaths here to 1,645.

Thirty-nine new cases of the virus have also been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases here to 24,876.

The National Public Heath Emergency Team (NPHET) urged the public to maintain its efforts to suppress the virus, particularly over the bank holiday weekend.

"As we approach the last week of phase 1, it is encouraging to see ICU and hospital admissions declining, the number of new cases remaining stable and a 90% recovery rate in the community.

"Moving into next week, I would urge everyone to look back at the progress we have made over the past number of weeks and maintain our efforts to suppress COVID-19 into the future," commented the Department of Health's chief medical officer and NPHET chairperson, Dr Tony Holohan.

The department's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Tony Glynn, urged people to enjoy the warm weather this weekend, but "within recommended guidelines".

"Public health advice currently recommends outdoor meetings of up to four people outside of your household, at a physical distance of two metres, and within 5km of your home," he commented.

Earlier today, the Government agreed that the current deal with private hospitals, which saw the State take control of them in early April, will not be extended beyond June.

It said that it will however seek to negotiate a new agreement, which would allow full access to private hospitals if a second wave of COVID-19 was to occur.

The decision not to extend the current deal was welcomed by the Private Hospitals Association, which said that its members "will now commence the process of preparing for the full resumption of private care provision nationwide from the beginning of July".

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, also said that Ireland is now on track to move to phase 2 of the Government's plan to reopen business and society on June 8. However, he emphasised that it is "too soon" to reduce the two-metre social distancing rule to one metre.

Mr Varadkar also said that the Government intends to reopen schools at the end of August, however all students may not be able to return for full days, every day.

A new study by public health experts in the HSE has shown that schools are not a high-risk setting for transmission of COVID-19. The study concluded that the reopening of schools should be considered as an early, rather than a late measure in the lifting of restrictions. For more on this, click here.


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