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Leah Farrell/

255 new cases, 10 further deaths and Dáil passes emergency legislation: Today's Covid-19 main points

There are now 1,819 confirmed cases of the virus in the Republic of Ireland.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 26th 2020, 10:52 PM

THE DÁIL HAS passed emergency Covid-19 legislation that deals with issues such as a nationwide rent freeze and a ban on evictions.

The National Public Health Emergency Team also met to discuss the potential impact of the virus after a new report suggested that Ireland’s intensive care beds could be overwhelmed by the coronavirus. 

The Department of Health tonight confirmed that 10 more people had died from the virus, bringing the death toll in the Republic of Ireland to 19.

A further 255 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland, bringing the total number of cases here to 1,819.

There is good news, however: more than 100 doctors have re-joined the Medical Register to tackle the pandemic, and Medical Council has launched a new website page for doctors.

On the international front, the US has passed a $2.2 trillion rescue package aimed at curbing the crisis there.

Here are today’s main Covid-19 points:

  • A further 10 deaths from Covid-19 and 255 new cases in the Republic of Ireland were confirmed.
  • The Dáil passed Covid-19 emergency legislation.
  • Three more people have died from Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of people who’ve died there to 10.
  • Nursing homes in the east of the country have seen large clusters of coronavirus cases, according to data released today.
  • Gardaí will be issued with controversial “spit hoods” to place over the faces of individuals who are arrested during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Frontline healthcare workers were applauded by TDs in the Dáil, and people around the country, at 8pm.
  • The Courts Service has introduced new measures, including relaxed bail requirements and more use of video link, to improve adherence to social distancing rules.
  • Acute paediatric services at Tallaght Children’s Hospital will be re-located to Crumlin and Temple Street for the duration of the crisis from midnight tomorrow.
  • The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said it has experienced “unprecedented demand for income supports” including the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Jobseeker payments since 13 March.
  • Dublin’s Pride parade has been postponed until September.
  • Local Link evening services on door-to-door routes are being suspended, effective immediately. These resources will be redeployed to the delivery of community support services for passengers who need medical and food supplies within rural areas, in particular the elderly, the vulnerable, and the sick.
  • Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have both announced that they “agree the need to form a strong stable government” to help Ireland recover from the crisis, as efforts to form a government ramped up yesterday.
  • The Irish Dental Association and the Dental Protection group are calling on the government to ensure dentists have access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), as they continue to treat emergency patients.
  • Vodafone is donating 1,000 new smartphones along with 2,000 x €20 credit top ups to Alone, an organisation which supports older people in Ireland.
  • Revolut customers in Ireland will be able to donate to the Irish Red Cross via the in-app donations feature.
  • Dogs Trust has issued advice for dog owners during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has released a report that warns that there was a high risk that healthcare systems EU will be overwhelmed as a result of the new coronavirus outbreak.

A key part of keeping a population’s death rate from Covid-19 down is the number of beds it has in intensive care units (ICU). As Ireland has 5.6 ICU beds per 100,000 of the population, just half of the EU average, it’s thought to be at particular risk of being overwhelmed.

In a crucial paragraph in its report, the ECDC says: “Hospital preparedness is an absolute and immediate priority when countries/regions find themselves in scenario 3 or 4.”

(Ireland is in scenario 3, which features “localised outbreaks”, “human-to-human transmission” and “an increasing pressure on healthcare systems”.)

In healthcare settings, surge capacity plans must be up-to-date and launched in expectation of the high demand for care of patients with moderate or severe respiratory distress. Emergency wards and intensive care wards are likely to exceed capacity very rapidly if service delivery is not reorganised. 

In international coronavirus news:

  • Spain’s Covid-19 death toll has increased by 655 in one day to over 4,000, while the worldwide number of confirmed cases of the virus surpassed 500,000. 
  • US senators have passed a $2.2 trillion rescue package, the biggest in modern US history, for businesses and ordinary Americans affected by the coronavirus.
  • Russia will halt all international flights from midnight under a government decree listing new measures against the pandemic.
  • The European Council and G20 had virtual meetings about Covid-19, with the G20 saying it is “committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic“.
  • The UK’s House of Commons has shut down early for its Easter break as a result of the outbreak.
  • The first ever Health for All Film Festival organised by the WHO has attracted nearly 1,300 short film submissions – both amateur and professional – from more than 110 countries.

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha and Órla Ryan 

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