Thousands could get sick as Covid-19 crisis deepens

Thousands could get sick as Covid-19 crisis deepens
A women wearing a mask to protect against Coronavirus on Patrick Street yesterday. 

As the Department of Health confirmed another 54 cases of coronavirus in Ireland last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that some 15,000 virus infections were expected by the end of the month.

People around the country are getting to grips with the new reality of life, with around 140,000 people nationally laid off due to measures taken in relation to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Varadkar said: "Tens of thousands of people will be laid off and we will see unemployment rising again to a level we haven't seen in 13 or 14 years.

"I want to say to those people who have lost their jobs, support is there for you, whether you're unemployed or self-employed."

Mr Varadkar said the Government will work to ensure people who have lost their jobs can pay their mortgages and rent.

The Government has recommended that all citizens should avoid non-essential overseas travel until March 29 in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Tánaiste Simon Coveney told a press briefing in Dublin that the Government’s advice against all non-essential movement out of the Republic includes Britain but not the North.

“Distinguishing between countries is increasingly difficult because of the rapid pace of the spread of the virus,” said Mr Coveney. “We don’t want Irish people stranded in different parts of the world and Europe unable to get home.”

A man wearing a mask to protect against Coronavirus on Patrick Street, Cork.	Picture: Dan Linehan
A man wearing a mask to protect against Coronavirus on Patrick Street, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

Meanwhile, Brian Smith a medical equipment supplier, told The Echo that suppliers are finding it impossible to source ventilators and that demand for nebulisers has increased ten-fold in recent weeks.

A nebuliser is a machine that assists a person in breathing in a medicine as a mist through a mask or a mouthpiece while ventilators are machines that pump oxygen into the lungs of patients with acute respiratory difficulties, when they cannot breathe on their own. They are seen as a vital piece of equipment in the fight against Covid-19.

Governments across Europe have intensified their efforts to source this equipment as hospitals prepare for an increase in Covid-19 cases.

The HSE will not disclose the number of ventilators in the Irish system but it told The Irish Times that it had purchased an additional 12 portable ventilators and 60 intensive care unit (ICU) ventilators.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr Smith said that his company has been “slammed” with requests for equipment.

“Nebulisers are the first form of defence,” he said . Ventilators are then used when people are unable to breathe on their own.

“We can’t get ventilators anywhere and the demand for nebulisers now is 10 times what we would normally see.

“Ventilators are used when things are extreme, and hospitals in Ireland have never had to deal with this amount of extreme cases.

“It hasn’t gotten to the stage where a lot of people need them in Ireland yet, but there is a worry that it will.”

The pandemic has reduced the number of patients on trolleys in hospitals across Cork and Ireland, with figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation showing that just 35 patients were left waiting for a hospital bed across Ireland yesterday.

Cork University Hospital which can expect to see more than 30 patients on trolleys on most days, had no patients waiting for a bed yesterday, while the Mercy had just two.

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