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Six outbreaks of virus in hospitals

  • Clusters also seen in extended families

  • Most infections were picked up here

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Artist Dave O’Rourke of Creative Dave hangs a mural on the boarded-up Palace Bar in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Artist Dave O’Rourke of Creative Dave hangs a mural on the boarded-up Palace Bar in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Artist Dave O’Rourke of Creative Dave hangs a mural on the boarded-up Palace Bar in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Hospitals have already suffered six coronavirus outbreaks and clusters, a new analysis reveals.

These involve linked or groups of cases, raising fears about the spread of the virus within hospitals.

The news comes as a seventh person died from Covid-19 in Ireland yesterday.

Health chiefs announced 204 more people were confirmed to have the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed infections here to 1,329.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the criteria for testing has been tightened and will be limited to patients with a fever and also at least one sign of respiratory disease, such as a cough or shortness of breath.

Unsustainable

He said around 20,000 people sought tests in the past 10 days and not all needed one, and this level of testing was unsustainable.

New information from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which analysed cases up to Monday night, show 11 clusters were travel-related, seven in private homes, four in nursing homes and four in workplaces.

At that stage there were 836 confirmed cases in Ireland.

In a clear message about the need for physical distancing of two metres, the study shows five clusters were found among extended family.

The analysis lists, for the first time, all the countries where people returning to Ireland picked it up.

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The National Rehabilitation Hospital may be needed to treat Covid-19 patients

The National Rehabilitation Hospital may be needed to treat Covid-19 patients

The National Rehabilitation Hospital may be needed to treat Covid-19 patients

They include 60 people who had been in Italy, 39 who came back from the UK, 37 from Austria and 16 who had been in Spain.

Other countries where people diagnosed here had travelled to include the US, France, Switzerland and the Philippines.

However, Ireland, rather than abroad, is the main location for infection, and 543 had caught it here up to yesterday.

The east of the country has seen the highest rate of infection, followed by the south, while it is lowest in the south-east and north-east.

Dublin had the highest number of confirmed cases of the virus at 471, with Monaghan and Wexford seeing the fewest so far.

More men than women have been infected.

Among those who ended up in intensive care, over-65s made up the largest group, accounting for eight patients.

However, there were six aged between 45 and 54 and another six between 55 and 64.

One child aged between five and 14 was put into intensive care, while four people in their 20s and 30s were also critical with the virus.

Overall, 239 were hospitalised. The figures reveal the median age for those who get the virus here is 44.

So far, the infected have ranged from a baby under one-year-old to a person aged 95.

There have been 208 cases among healthcare workers, including as a result of travel abroad.

Meanwhile, the new National Mental Health Hospital and an expansion to the National Rehabilitation Hospital are being lined up as locations for treating coronavirus patients.

Both are nearing completion and could provide nearly 300 beds between them.

Sources said these new hospitals have isolation facilities and, as a result, are being considered to boost health service capacity should it be needed.

The National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) hospital at Portrane, Co Dublin, is due to be operational this summer.

It will ultimately replace the current Central Mental Hos- pital facility in Dundrum.

However, it has the capacity to provide care for 170 patients and will have an intensive care rehabilitation unit.

It is under consideration as a possible site for coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, a 120-bed development at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire is also being lined up as a place to treat patients with the virus.

The new facility has en suite single rooms.

Sources said that any HSE-owned premises that have isolation facilities are under consideration for use if acute hospitals come under pressure.

The start of the CervicalCheck Tribunal to hear legal cases by women who developed cervical cancer after screening has been delayed due to the pandemic.

It has led to fears that some women may lose their legal right to seek compensation due to the statute of limitations.

Vulnerability

The 221+ group representing women involved in the controversy said it was informed of the delay by Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday.

A statement on the tribunal website said the decision was "in response to both the measures which were announced by the Taoiseach on March 12 and the understanding that the intended claimants may be considered to be at risk if they were to contract the virus".

A spokesperson for the group said: "We welcome the recognition of the inherent vulnerability that cervical cancer creates in all that suffer it and the respect shown for that vulnerability in the current circumstances.

"We have, however, flagged to the department our concern at the possibility that the delay will now cause the statute of limitations to be reached for some of those planning to bring a claim before the tribunal."