Another 31 die from coronavirus in Ireland
Another 31 people have died due to coronavirus in Ireland.
A total of 376 more cases of the related infection Covid-19 have been diagnosed, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said.
One of the deaths reported on Wednesday involved a person in the 15-24 age group, the second in this category.
Dr Holohan warned the number in intensive care units was too high as the prospect of a rapid easing of movement restrictions dwindles.
He said: “That is simply too high and we need to get that down further not only because it is about protecting occupancy but the lower the figure is it is a reflection of better protection of the public and lower levels of spread of the infection.”
Dr Holohan said 129 of the critical care beds were occupied.
He noted that represented around half the country’s original provision before additional steps were taken to boost capacity.
The criteria for testing has been expanded and, as expected, the number of referrals from GPs has increased and is expected to increase further.
There have been 1,190 deaths in Ireland and 20,253 confirmed cases, the Department of Health said.
A total of 5,568 cases, around a quarter, are associated with healthcare workers.
From the end of March, the Republic has seen an increase in deaths in long term residential care centres that can be attributed to Covid-19, officials said.
The number of clusters of infection at nursing homes has caused concern.
The use of masks in public is being considered as part of efforts to tackle coronavirus in Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
He added: “We are seeing what is happening in other countries. The science is equivocal – some people will say it is a good idea and some will say it is a bad idea.
“It is not one of those straightforward decisions where science tells you what the right thing to do is.
“I think we will be in a position to offer revised advice to the Irish public later in the week. Because the science is so uncertain on it, it is not something that we would make compulsory but something we would make advisory.”
Ireland is not where it needs to be to ease the lockdown on May 5, he said.
Mr Varadkar said he hoped to be in a position to share an exit strategy from the restrictions on movement with the Irish public in the next couple of days or certainly the weekend.
He added: “I don’t think I would be out of school by saying those numbers just aren’t good enough yet.
“Maybe it will change significantly by Friday but I don’t think we are there yet.”
Mr Varadkar said he understands people are frustrated and is grateful to the public for their co-operation.
He said: “People are starting to see other countries opening up and they’re wondering why we’re not. Bear in mind, it has also been the case that some of those countries are a week or two ahead of us in terms of the virus.”
He said he wants to make the right decision at the right time rather than end up reversing the decision.
“The last thing we want to do – and it may be inevitable and unavoidable – is to open the country too quickly and have to go backwards again.”