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Baby among 366 people diagnosed with coronavirus as report reveals how virus spread

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris pictured with Cillian de Gascun, director of  the National Virus Refrence Laboratory
Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA-EFE POOL PIC

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris pictured with Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Refrence Laboratory Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA-EFE POOL PIC

Health Minister Simon Harris at a news conference at Government Buildings in Dublin
Photo credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Health Minister Simon Harris at a news conference at Government Buildings in Dublin Photo credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris pictured with Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Refrence Laboratory Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA-EFE POOL PIC

The full extent of the grip the coronavirus has on the Republic has been revealed for the first time – spreading to 23 counties and infecting one baby.

Figures from the Department of Health released last night show another 74 people tested positive yesterday as the overall toll surged to 366, including two deaths.

A detailed breakdown revealed worrying trends, including the impact it is having on those caring for the sick with health workers making up one in five of those who fell victim to the infection.

A fifth of the 271 infected up to Monday picked it up without knowing the source of the infection, confirming it is now circulating in the community.

Six patients have ended up in intensive care units and 84 were hospitalised.

Four in 10 were infected abroad and 17pc got the virus from another person who was positive.

One in five positive patients is still “under investigation”. Two-thirds are under 55 years of age and nearly one in four is aged 35-44, signalling how it is hitting young age groups.

It comes as 24,000 people have responded to the HSE recruitment drive, including around 1,000 nurses.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said of the 271 cases notified to Monday, 40pc are male and 59pc female with 23 clusters.

Two-thirds of cases are younger than 55 years, with almost one in four aged 35-44 years.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 129, followed by Cork with 48 and Limerick which recorded 14.

The figures show an infant under one year of age caught the virus. Four children aged five to 14 years of age have also tested positive.

And 28 people between 15 and 24 were also found to be positive.

Suspected cases who are referred by their GP for testing are being told they can wait several days for a result.

Dr Holohan said: "We need to continue maximising our efforts to interrupt new transmission chains and keep clusters under control."

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe admitted yesterday many more will lose their jobs as more businesses close and collapse.

He declined to put a figure on the numbers out of work or confirm staggering numbers of 350,000 to 400,000 which some experts have predicted.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty confirmed the Government will refund employers who temporarily lay off employees but are continuing to pay them €203 per week during the current pandemic.

More than 50,000 laid off workers have already applied for the Government's new emergency pandemic unemployment payment.

Health Minister Simon Harris said it is impossible to predict when the Government will start advising older and vulnerable people to remain "cocooned" indoors as was signalled by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Systems are being worked on to ensure they will get food, supplies and be checked on.

Older people without family and social support are urged to give their details to their local Garda station where gardaí will help out collecting prescriptions and other supports .

However, providers said over 800 existing people who receive HSE-funded homecare are choosing to self-isolate - including from their home carers.

It is creating a crisis in income for home carers as the HSE will only pay them for the first two days of their client's self-isolation.

Mr Harris said for now the advice is "if you're an older person, if you're a person with an underlying medical condition do try and stay at home as much as possible".

"Get out and get the exercise, but in general try and stay at home as much as possible."

Speaking after a visit to the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) with the Taoiseach, he said the more people are tested, the better the chance of slowing the spread of the virus.

He said the NVRL processed 1,000 tests yesterday but people needed to know that it would take a number of days after being referred by their GP to get an appointment to give a swab which would be sent to a lab for analysis.

The Naval Service vessels are being deployed to Dublin, Cork and Galway as one-stop-shops to support testing.

The vessels will act as support bases for onshore testing centres - with Covid-19 testing staff supported by electricity supplies, accommodation, food preparation, water supplies and even equipment storage on the berthed vessels.

LÉ Samuel Beckett has been assigned to Dublin, LÉ William Butler Yeats has been assigned to Galway and an as-yet-unknown vessel will be deployed to Cork's upper docks.

Testing centres where people will go to give a swab after a GP referral may also include Garda stations, schools and community centres, while Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork, has also been offered as a site.

The global picture remained grave yesterday with the number of infections reaching 207,518.

At least 8,248 people have died across the world as a result of the pandemic, including two in the Republic.

Schools in Northern Ireland are to close following advice from public health officials in the UK.

Both Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Dublin closed yesterday evening .

Penneys also said it is shutting its doors until further notice due to concerns for its employees and customers.

But supermarkets have seen a spike in trade as households continue to panic buy.

Irish Independent


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