Concerns raised over quality of protective kit imported from China
Concerns about the quality of some protective equipment imported into Ireland from China amid the coronavirus pandemic have emerged across the country.
Images posted online show gowns with three-quarter length sleeves, leaving arms exposed.
Ireland’s health chiefs have acknowledged supplies in some cases are different to what Irish medics are used to.
They are attempting to source additional equipment.
A 200 million euro order has seen plane-loads of kit arriving in Ireland over recent days.
It is intended to protect doctors and nurses who are braced for a surge in the number of Covid-19 patients in the Republic’s hospitals over coming weeks.
Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: “The equipment that is available in some circumstances is different to that which our healthcare professionals are used to.
“It is being tested and assessed by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
“Good use will be found for it. We will continue to look for additional equipment.
“It has become such a competitive environment for this equipment and we are looking at this all the time.”
Paul Reid, HSE chief executive, said supplies had been arriving on Aer Lingus flights since Sunday.
He added: “We are engaged worldwide to secure alternative stocks should these supplies not materialise to the extent that we expect.
“It is a very competitive worldwide market but our procurement teams have done really well to secure what we have to date.”
Meanwhile, official data has revealed that almost 90% of those dying with coronavirus in Ireland are aged 65 and above.
Two deaths have been recorded amongst patients aged between 25 and 34.
A total of 160 clusters of infection have been identified, and Dublin has recorded more than half the total of cases.
Nursing homes are undergoing a particular problem and Mr Donohoe said that is being considered by the Government.
Elsewhere, Ireland’s Central Bank has warned the crisis is likely to make a 22 billion euro hole in the country’s finances and the number of unemployed is soaring.
Mr Donohoe said: “Change that in the darkest of years would have taken a year to happen has happened over the space of a number of days.”
Ministers have announced a national initiative dubbed Shine Your Light for front-line staff and healthcare workers at 9pm on Easter Saturday.
Everyone is invited to take part in a gesture intended to express hope and remembrance for those who have died and their loved ones.
Public buildings, embassies and peacekeeping posts around the world will be lit up in solidarity.
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said: “We have taken extraordinary and unprecedented measures, closing our places of learning, our cafes, pubs, theatres, galleries and venues, and our cultural institutions and curtailing access to our national parks and nature reserves.
“These actions are slowing the spread of Covid-19, flattening the curve. They are reducing the pressure on our hospitals, saving countless lives.
“In the midst of this, there has been an outpouring of creative and artistic responses to our new circumstances.”
She launched a 1 million euro fund to encourage artistic creativity during the lockdown.
A total of 334 awards worth 3,000 euro each will be made.
The minister said: “We are trying to ignite that creative fire in the people out there.”