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Ireland to get 120m masks from South Korea, and world cases reach 4m: Today's Covid-19 main points

‘Firefighting’ Covid-19 in Direct Provision, teachers’ union on the State exams, and Boris Johnson’s 7pm announcement.

Linda Rochford (left) and Sophia Kelly, who work in catering at St James's Hospital, pass a mural thanking HSE workers.
Linda Rochford (left) and Sophia Kelly, who work in catering at St James's Hospital, pass a mural thanking HSE workers.
Image: PA

Updated May 10th 2020, 5:30 PM

THE GOVERNMENT YESTERDAY launched a document for businesses, which they’re calling “the protocol”, about the measures they would need to put in place to open their offices and premises again.

The measures include regular hand washing, no hand shaking, and no sharing cups or pens. 

This morning, Health Minister Simon Harris had this stark message for people who were thinking of “bending the rules”:

I get it; some people look at what might be possible from 18th May and think it’s ok to just start that from now. Bottom line is: it’s not. It’s dangerous. Every day counts. The reason these restrictions are in place until then: to save YOUR life & keep your loved ones well.
If you’re thinking of bending or stretching the public health rules -please don’t. 
And to anyone who is, remember this number: 72. The number of people in ICU with Covid-19 fighting for their life & health. Be thankful it’s not you or I and let’s stay the course to keep it that way.

This evening, a further 12 Covid-19 deaths were announced and 236 new cases were confirmed in Ireland.

The death toll from the virus in this country now stands at 1,458, and the total number of confirmed cases here is 22,996.

Here are today’s main Covid-19 points:

  • A further 12 Covid-19 deaths in Ireland have been confirmed by health officials. The total number of deaths from the virus now stands at 1,458. 
  • HSE chief Paul Reid has said that Ireland has secured 120 million masks from South Korea, to be delivered over the coming weeks. Reid also said that PPE would cost €1 billion this year.
  • Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan, and Health Minister Simon Harris have urged people to stick with social distancing measures, after what appeared to be an increase in gatherings of people in parks this weekend.
  • We take a look inside the State’s response to Covid-19 in Direct Provision, which one Department of Justice official described as “firefighting”.
  • Teachers’ union the ASTI has advised its members to “engage” in the calculated grades system this year, after the Department of Education pledged that it is a once-off. It’s also called for full marks to be awarded for oral and practical tests. 
  • A new aircraft worth more than €5 million has been procured by the government to help the Defence Forces’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • An AA survey has indicated that over 85% of people are satisfied with the Garda response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The HSE is running  a new campaign called Hold Firm, with the aim of motivating people to keep their actions up to stay safe.

Speaking at the Mater Hospital today, HSE chief Paul Reid said that all 30,000 staff and 28,000 residents in nursing homes have been tested to date, and that labs have capacity to do 15,000 tests per day.

Anne O’Connor, COO at the HSE, said that there have been outbreaks at 64% of long term residential centres, but Dr Colm Henry added that the rate of positive tests from over 61,000 done appeared to be “lower than expected”.

It was unclear whether it would be a “bumpy” experience in lifting restrictions, Reid said, or whether we would get a “second wave”.

Reid said that the average turnaround time for a Covid-19 test is 2.4 days – that’s from when the swab is taken to when the results are received.

Reid said that there would be radio ads urging people that GP clinics and hospital emergency departments are still open to people, if they need to use them.

Here are today’s international Covid-19 points:

  • The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has topped four million.
  • Three young people in New York state have died of what Governor Andrew Cuomo said may be “a Covid-related illness” in children.
  • Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci is among three members of the White House’s coronavirus task force who will self-isolate after potential exposure to the pathogen, according to US media reports.
  • Pangolins are one of the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world, and rumours have been swirling that they’ve been involved in the spread of Covid-19. But they’re incredibly rare, and scientists are still convinced bats and the animal market played the key role in Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Sir David Spiegelhalter has called the government’s use of Covid-19 statistics “not trustworthy”, in an interview on the BBC, and has called on the Prime Minister to “treat the audience with respect”.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to announce a five-phase plan to ease restrictions in the UK at 7pm today, which will be implemented from tomorrow.
  • China and South Korea reported new spikes in coronavirus cases, setting off fresh concerns in countries where outbreaks had been in dramatic decline.

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