Covid-19 latest: 376 new cases; Taoiseach says Ireland is not ready to come out of lockdown

Covid-19 latest: 376 new cases; Taoiseach says Ireland is not ready to come out of lockdown
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

An additional 31 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 in Ireland have died today.

Speaking at the press briefing this evening Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health said: 

"We estimate that as of Saturday 25th April 12,222 Covid-19 cases (64%) in the community have recovered. 

"1,164 cases (6%) have been discharged from hospital which gives us a total recovery rate of 70%."

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) revealed that as of midnight on Monday, over 49% of cases are in Dublin, with Cork and Kildare next on 6% each.

Speaking earlier today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the number of cases of Covid-19 remains too high for Ireland to come out of the lockdown on May 5.

"Regarding the exit plan or exit strategy - we hope to be in a position to share it with the Irish public in the next couple of days or certainly the weekend," he said.

"What that plan will do is set out the steps as to how we will re-open the country and society based on different intervals. 

"We will also get new advice from the chief medical officer on Friday as to when we should start the process of re-opening the country.

"We need to look at the number of patients in ICUs with Covid-19, the number of new cases and the number of deaths. 

"I don't think I would be out of school by saying those numbers just aren't good enough yet. 

"Maybe it will change significantly by Friday but I don't think we are there yet. 

"There are over 100 patients with Covid in ICUs and a lot of new cases yesterday.

"It was the lowest increase in new cases we have seen in some time but still they are new cases."

Mr Varadkar said he understood people are frustrated and he is grateful to the Irish public for their co-operation to date.

"People are starting to see other countries opening up and they're wondering why we're not. 

"Bear in mind, it has also been the case that some of those countries are a week or two ahead of us in terms of the virus."

He said he wants to make the right decision at the right time rather than end up reversing the decision.

"The last thing we want to do - and it may be inevitable and unavoidable - is too open the country too quickly and have to go backwards again."

The Taoiseach said the wearing of face coverings in public would not be compulsory if it is introduced.

The use of face masks in public is being considered as part of efforts to tackle coronavirus in Ireland, Leo Varadkar said.

His comments came as the Scottish Government issued guidance for people to shield their faces in places such as shops and on public transport. 

The powersharing executive in Northern Ireland is also due to consider a similar proposal.

"On the issue of face coverings - I'm not going to say masks because we want to make sure masks are preserved for healthcare staff," he said.

"The issue of getting people to wear face coverings is under consideration at the moment. 

"We are seeing what is happening in other countries. 

"The science is equivocal - some people will say it is a good idea and some will say it is a bad idea.

"It is not one of those straightforward decisions where science tells you what the right thing to do is."

"I think we will be in a position to offer revised advice to the Irish public later in the week. 

"Because the science is so uncertain on it - it is not something that we would make compulsory but something we would make advisory."

So far, there have now been 1,190 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland. The median age of deaths in Ireland is 83.

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