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'Concrete reasons for hope', says Ronan Glynn, one year on from first Covid-19 case in Ireland

There were 537 patients with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals as of yesterday evening

People walk by a 2m social distancing sign on Howth Harbor Pier over the weekend.
People walk by a 2m social distancing sign on Howth Harbor Pier over the weekend.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THERE WERE 537 patients with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals as of yesterday evening, including 132 patients in intensive care.

The number of people with the disease in hospital is down 14 cases on the previous day, according to the latest figures from the HSE.

As of yesterday, 348 non-critical care beds were available in Irish hospitals, as were 40 critical care beds for adult and six for children.

Health officials yesterday confirmed that a further six people with Covid-19 died in Ireland, along with 612 new cases.

The national 14-day incidence rate is 212.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Marking one year on from Ireland’s first confirmed case of Covid-19,  Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said “our lives have changed in ways we never thought possible” but there are “more concrete reasons for hope and optimism now than at any time over the last 12 months”. 

The first known case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Ireland on 29 February after the first case in Northern Ireland was confirmed days prior. At the time the only information released was that it was a male in the east of the country who had travelled to Ireland from an area in Italy where coronavirus had been detected.

Citing weekly reductions in case numbers and hospital patients, the rollout of the vaccine, and the commitment of health workers, Dr Glynn said:

“We still have a way to go. Our case numbers are still far too high and we must continue to do all we can to suppress this disease over the coming weeks. But if we can do this successfully through March, our focus will begin to turn to what we can do, rather than what we cannot.

“Yes, we need to be cautious and yes, there will be challenges over the coming months. But together, through science and solidarity, we will get through this and this pandemic will end.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was also optimistic about the week ahead, estimating that hospitalisations will fall below 500, and that over half a million vaccines will be administered. 

“As we enter a new month, here’s some positive thoughts for the week ahead – our schools are starting to re-open, the number of people in hospital with Covid will likely fall below 500 from a peak of 2k.

“We should also have administered half a million vaccines to those most at risk. Please keep doing what you’re doing. It is working. Summer is coming,” he tweeted.

As of Thursday, 409,529 vaccines against Covid-19 have been administered in Ireland, including 271,594 first doses and 137,935 doses.

Students in junior infants, senior infants, first class and second class – including so-called multi-grade classes at these levels – returned to school this morning for the first time since before Christmas. 

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Leaving Certificate students also returned under the government’s reopening plan. Schools for children with special needs also re-opened fully this morning. 

The number of waiting days for the standard Illness Benefit payment has been reduced from 6 days to 3 days, Social Protection Minister, Heather Humphreys announced this morning. 

The payment will now be paid from the fourth day of illness, which Humphreys says will reduce the financial burden for employees who become ill and allow them time off work without the level of income loss that they might have experienced up to now.

There are no waiting days for the special Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit payment, which is paid, subject to medical certification by a doctor from day one of a person being diagnosed or required to self-isolate.

About the author:

Adam Daly

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