Virus toll soars as ten more peo­ple die

■ Dáil con­sid­ers fur­ther emer­gency law as gar­daí step up plans to en­force so­cial isolation this week­end

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Cor­mac O’Ke­effe, Daniel McCon­nell, Paul Hos­ford, and Liz Dun­phy www.irishex­am­

Fri­day, March 27, 2020

The num­ber of peo­ple who have died hav­ing con­tracted Covid-19 in Ire­land has more than dou­bled to 19, af­ter ten new deaths were con­firmed.

The sharp spike in deaths re­late to three fe­males and seven males. Nine of the ten deaths were in the east of the country, while one was in the south.

Health of­fi­cials stated that most of the ten deaths oc­curred in hos­pi­tals or nurs­ing homes, and the me­dian age of pa­tients di­ag­nosed with the virus who have died is 79 years.

“While it is a big in­crease, the num­bers over­all are still small but we, un­for­tu­nately, see ad­di­tional deaths,” chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, Tony Holo­han said.

In to­tal, the Depart­ment of Health con­firmed 255 new cases of Covid-19 in Ire­land, and there are now 1,819 con­firmed cases across the country.

The sharp rise in deaths comes as gar­daí across the State are pre­par­ing to es­ca­late their Covid-19 op­er­a­tions this week­end.

Au­thor­i­ties want to avoid the threat to pub­lic health posed by over­crowded parks, walk­ways, and beaches as seen last week­end, with sev­eral days of pleas­ant weather be­ing fore­cast.

An Garda Síochána have or­dered 16,000 spit hoods to put over the heads of de­tainees to pre­vent them cough­ing or spit­ting at gar­daí.

Pub­lic health con­cerns were raised af­ter scenes last week­end of traf­fic tail­backs and crowds of peo­ple at scenic walks, parks, and beaches.

“We are giv­ing this week­end a lot of at­ten­tion,” said one se­nior of­fi­cer. “We don’t want a re­peat of last week­end. We are look­ing at high-risk ar­eas, beaches and parks, groups of youths con­gre­gat­ing, and in­creas­ing our pa­trols and vis­i­bil­ity.”

An­other com­man­der said: “The main thing is around pub­lic ameni­ties that might be fre­quented by any great num­bers over the week­end and [gar­daí] hav­ing a high-vis­i­bil­ity pres­ence there, ad­vis­ing peo­ple not to con­gre­gate and en­force so­cial dis­tanc­ing.”

Se­nior of­fi­cers have told the Ir­ish Examiner that they still do not have sweep­ing lock­down pow­ers con­tained in the emer­gency leg­is­la­tion passed by the Oireach­tas a week ago, and signed by the Pres­i­dent last Fri­day.

It is un­der­stood that Si­mon Har­ris, the health min­is­ter, has yet to sign reg­u­la­tions pro­vided for in the leg­is­la­tion to legally en­able gar­daí to use the pow­ers.

Garda sources said they had hoped the pow­ers would be in place by now, given that warmer weather is fore­cast this week­end, and the clocks go for­ward an hour, mean­ing it will be bright un­til about 8pm from Sun­day.

The Health (Preser­va­tion and Pro­tec­tion and other Emer­gency Mea­sures in the Pub­lic In­ter­est) Act 2020 con­tains sweep­ing pow­ers, in­clud­ing travel re­stric­tions; re­quir­ing peo­ple to stay at home; pro­hibit­ing events; clo­sure of premises, and de­tain­ing peo­ple sus­pected of be­ing in­fected with Covid-19 who are breach­ing quarantine.

Once the reg­u­la­tions are made, the Garda com­mis­sioner will is­sue a di­rec­tive ex­plain­ing to of­fi­cers the new laws and how he wants them to be en­forced.

A fa­ther and son were charged in Dublin yes­ter­day for as­sault­ing two gar­daí and ac­cused of spit­ting at them.

Gar­daí ob­jected to bail and cited fears in the pop­u­la­tion over Covid-19.

The Dáil, over 12 hours, de­bated fur­ther emer­gency leg­is­la­tion to pro­vide more sup­ports for work­ers, renters, and small busi­ness own­ers.

Speak­ing dur­ing the de­bate on the Emer­gency Mea­sures in the Pub­lic In­ter­est (Covid-19) Bill, Paschal Dono­hoe, the fi­nance min­is­ter, said: “The cost of this in­ter­ven­tion to the State will be ap­prox­i­mately €300m per week.

“That cost is only based on es­ti­mates we are cre­at­ing at a point of huge un­cer­tainty.

“That cost could grow, de­pend­ing on the chal­lenge we face, or it could di­min­ish if we are suc­cess­ful.

“That ac­knowl­edge­ment of risk and what could change, how­ever, only deep­ens my view that this is the kind of ac­tion a State needs to take at a time of need,” he said.

Mean­while, Si­mon Har­ris, the health min­is­ter, an­nounced that stu­dent nurses and mid­wives would be paid for their work through­out the Covid-19 pandemic, by ap­ply­ing for a Health­care As­sis­tant (HCA) con­tract.

He said that the work was “an of­fer and not an obli­ga­tion” but added that the country needs “all hands on deck through this chal­leng­ing pe­riod.”

€2.30 (£1.60 in N. Ire­land)

Pic­ture: Dom­nick Walsh

The sculp­ture in Tralee Town Park of poet Wil­liam Pem­broke Mulchinock and Mary O’Connor, who in­spired his love song, ‘Rose of Tralee’, now wear­ing masks.

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