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Elderly bear brunt of the virus as 191 test positive

Third Covid-19 death confirmed

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Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Pensioners are bearing the brunt of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland and are at most risk of being hospitalised.

A third person has died from the infection and another 191 have tested positive, figures released last night confirmed

Although the median age of people infected with the virus here is 43 years, it has emerged that 31 over-65s have been admitted to hospital. This is the largest of all affected age groups.

HSE director Paul Reid revealed that the numbers who had volunteered with the HSE to be 'on call for Ireland' has now risen to over 40,000.

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He said that there had been "overwhelming support from business, communities, social groups and individuals," and said that everyone in the HSE was inspired by the response.

Meanwhile, as the overall toll of confirmed cases climbed to 557, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan sent a clear message to younger people.

He warned it is up to everyone to act responsibly in exercising social distancing and not jeopardising older groups and people with underlying illnesses who are at most risk of complications.

"It is too early to see any impact of our social distancing measures. This data underscores the importance of younger people to rigorously follow public health advice and social distancing measures," he said.

The latest death involved a woman from the east of the country, and the Department of Health was unaware if she had an underlying disease.

Restrictions

Dr Holohan said the hope is the impact of social distancing, which became effective over the last week, will be seen in a slowing of the rate of new positive cases at the end of the month.

The rate of community transmission - where a person was infected without knowing the source - is now at 35pc.

It is not anticipated that tougher restrictions will be imposed on the population at this stage to try to slow the spread.

Overall there was good compliance to social distancing here, said Dr Holohan.

Asked if there was any evidence of people who had been the Cheltenham racing festival in the UK testing positive, he said the new figures would have been due to exposure in the population before the event.

For the most part people who are not in need of hospital admission are asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days. The last five of those days have to be without a temperature.

It comes as GPs continue to be deluged with patients reporting symptoms, many of whom are being referred for a test.

However, it can take an anxious wait of five days before the get an appointment to provide a swab.

However, Dr Colm Henry of the HSE said this should ease with the roll-out of more testing centres and a consignment of over 30,000 more testing swabs.

The virus has now spread to all counties except Monaghan.

Earlier Health Minister Simon Harris said it was a "misconception that this is a disease that affects older people".

"It's not just about yourself; its about protecting your mum, your dad, your granny, your granddad and vulnerable people," he said.

Healthcare workers accounted for 84 cases, and 28 people picked up the contagion abroad.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 172, followed by Cork with 62 and Limerick 14.

Dr Holohan said the rise in cases was as expected and daily escalation will continue to be around 30pc.

It emerged yesterday that a pregnant woman was diagnosed with the virus and gave birth in the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin.

The woman, who had very mild symptoms, was placed in isolation before delivering her baby. She has since returned home with her newborn.

The Asthma Society of Ireland meanwhile has assured 380,000 people who have condition and 500,000 people with COPD that there is no national shortage of medications.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that the first Covid-19 vaccine trial has also started, just 60 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was shared, which "is an unprecedented scientific triumph".

Meanwhile, 15 flight attendant trainees are in self-isolation after reportedly testing positive for coronavirus at Dublin Airport.

The 17 Italian flight attendant trainees travelled from Bergamo in Italy to Dublin last week for Ryanair flight training. They stopped over in south Italy and arrived in Dublin Airport last Saturday.

However, one female trainee fell ill and was hospitalised.

This resulted in the rest of the crew being tested and it was reported that 15 received a positive result for coronavirus.

The trainees are currently in self-isolation.

Their training was overseen by Crewlink, a Ryanair cabin crew recruitment agency.

Irish Independent