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Members of the media at the daily Department of Health press conference. Sam Boal/

Harris announces new supports for nursing homes after 40 clusters identified across the country

Figures correct as of midnight on Wednesday were released this morning by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

LAST UPDATE | 4 Apr 2020

THERE WERE 171 clusters of Covid-19 detected in Ireland before midnight on 1 April, with 40 of them in nursing homes according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Of these nursing home clusters, 32 were in the east of the country according to the HPSC.

This afternoon, Minister for Health Simon Harris announced new measures aimed at supporting nursing homes during the current crisis. 

This will include staff screening in nursing homes twice a day, Covid-19 testing being prioritised for staff and the HSE providing access to PPE, expert advice and training. 

Each nursing home will be identifying a Covid-19 lead, the Department of Health said.

Staff movement across residential facilities will be minimised, with the HSE supporting staff with alternative transport and accommodation if required. 

A temporary financial support scheme is also to be established in the coming days to support private and voluntary nursing homes in managing any outbreak that occurs. The scheme is envisaged to last for three months and will be reviewed after the first month of operation.

Minister Harris said: “We must do everything we can to support them to help break the transmission of the virus.

To this end we are extending supports to this sector so that they can continue their role in the overall public health response to Covid-19. Our goal, in these challenging times, is to protect our older people, wherever they are living.

In other statistics released today, 148 people had been admitted to intensive care due to the virus with 1,039 people hospitalised.

The most recent data released yesterday highlighted a further 424 new cases, bringing the total number in Ireland to 4,273. A further 22 deaths brought the overall number to 120 since the outbreak began.

According to the HPSC, people in the east of the country have been more likely to become infected with coronavirus so far with an incidence rate of 154.2 per 100,000 population. 

incident rate Incidence rates per 100,000 population. HPSC HPSC

In terms of cases admitted to intensive care as of midnight Wednesday, 47.9% of them were aged between 45 and 64. A further 39.9% were aged 65 and over.

incidence rates 1 HPSC HPSC

For clusters, 31 of the 171 were classed as in private homes and 30 were identified in hospitals. Another 21 are travel related.

The surge of confirmed cases seen in nursing homes so far is expected to hit hospitals in the coming weeks, the president of the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday.

In the number of cases where people sadly passed away – figures correct as of 11am yesterday – 91.2% (103) of them were over 65, two people were aged between 25 and 34, two were aged between 35 and 54 and a further six people aged 55-64 had died.

- With reporting from Cónal Thomas at the Department of Health

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