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'Do not touch anyone' - over-70s while exercising

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A member of the public wearing a face mask walks past a mural in the Portobello area of Dublin yesterday

A member of the public wearing a face mask walks past a mural in the Portobello area of Dublin yesterday

PA

A member of the public wearing a face mask walks past a mural in the Portobello area of Dublin yesterday

A further 19 people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland have died, the Department of Health has confirmed.

It brings the total number of deaths linked to Covid-19 here to 1,303.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said yesterday it had been notified of 330 new confirmed cases of the virus.

There are now a total of 21,506 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland.

The HSE said it is working to identify any contacts the patients may have had to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread.

Of those affected, the median age of confirmed cases was 49 years. 6,068 cases are associated with healthcare workers, the figures show.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 10,406, followed by Kildare with 1,242 cases and Cork with 1,164 cases.

Of those for whom transmission status is known, travel abroad accounted for just 3pc of cases.

Meanwhile, over-70s are being told to avoid other people and not to touch anyone in new guidelines on exercising while cocooning.

They will also be told to keep their distance and avoid touching family and friends when rules on visiting are lifted next month.

People who have been asked to cocoon for the last three weeks can, from tomorrow, leave their homes for daily exercise.

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Medical staff at the test centre at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay

Medical staff at the test centre at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Medical staff at the test centre at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay

However, new regulations on how older people should act when they are in public insist they "avoid touching people or surfaces".

Risk

They are also told to "strictly adhere" to the two-metre social distancing measures and "avoid other people as much as possible". In addition, they are advised to stay away from shops.

The HPSC guidelines for those cocooning were updated after the Government lifted the advisory on older and vulnerable people leaving their homes.

Cocooning recommendations are advisory rather than mandatory but health officials have insisted older people should remain in their homes because they are at most risk of dying from the virus.

"You are strongly advised to stay at home and avoid any face-to-face contact at this time," the HPSC says. "However, you may go out for a short walk or exercise beyond your garden or yard."

Under the Government's roadmap for exiting the Covid-19 lockdown, older people will not be permitted to have friends or family into their homes until June 8.

The five-phase plan says people should take extreme caution when visiting the homes of older people.

Those visiting older family or friends will be asked to wear face coverings and gloves when doing so.

They will also be asked to wash their hands on entering the home and to keep two metres between themselves and the person they are visiting at all times.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of older people worldwide.

As revealed in the Herald last week, there have been calls from a number of cabinet ministers to ease the restrictions on older people who have been asked to cocoon.

Several ministers expressed disappointment with the lack of clarity on restrictions for older people in the Government's roadmap.

There are no significant changes in cocooning rules over the next four months, according to the document.

However, next month over-70s will be permitted to go to shops at certain times of day.

From June 8, shops will open at specific times for older people. They will however be asked to wear gloves and masks and adhere to social distancing measures while shopping.

However, the roadmap does not set out any further easing of restrictions for older people in any of the other phases.

More than 950 patients are being treated in Irish hospitals with confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus.