The Department of Health has said that three more people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,720.

Ten more cases of the coronavirus have also been diagnosed. There is now a total of 25,391 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

Almost 405,000 tests have been performed and the positivity rate over the last week is 0.5%.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "While we now have a robust testing system in place, the success of this system is dependent on people isolating and coming forward to their GP as soon as they experience symptoms.

"Cough, fever, shortness of breath, change in smell or taste, flu-like symptoms should be treated as Covid-19 until a GP assessment or test deems otherwise."

One further coronavirus death has been recorded in Northern Ireland during the past 24 hours, taking the official Department of Health death toll to 546.

No new cases have been recorded, so the number remains at 4,871.

Tonight, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said any decision about moving to Phase 3 of the roadmap to reopening the country would be made on Thursday night, on foot of advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

However, speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, he said where Ireland was today regarding Covid-19 gave him confidence to say the country could move to Phase 3.

It comes as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation told the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response that it is a "scandal" that Ireland has the highest Covid-19 infection rates among health workers in the world.

General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that 88% of infected healthcare workers picked up the virus at work.

She said 60% of those infected are still ill.

A submission from the INMO to today's meeting of the committee said 4,823 staff are still ill, according to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

This evening, the Department of Health said it disputes the figures, saying that 93% of healthcare have recovered from the virus.

It said the figure was given to the INMO in a meeting with the HPSC and department officials a number of weeks back and is not accurate.

The department said that a separate analysis showed that 93% of healthcare workers had recovered from the virus. 

It also said that Ireland maintains a very wide definition of a healthcare worker for surveillance purposes and international comparisons should be interpreted with caution.

Measures needed to protect healthcare workers - Varadkar

Mr Varadkar also disputed the INMO figures, but he added it was indisputable that 8,000 healthcare workers had contracted Covid-19.

He acknowledged the vast majority had done so at work and measures needed to be taken to protect them. He added that he was confident those measures were now in place.

Mr Varadkar said it would have been better if the country had larger stocks of Personal Protective Equipment, but all countries had problems with that.

Earlier, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that 1,600 of the 4,823 ill staff are categorised as nurses or midwives and this puts enormous pressure on rosters.

The INMO says that up to the end of May, 8,018 cases of infection of healthcare workers were reported.

Healthcare workers make up a third of all Covid-19 positive cases, while seven healthcare workers have died.

The number that have recovered is put at 1,515 or 19%.

Around 2,550 cases are still under investigation, without a known source of transmission. In 20% of cases, the status is unknown.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said it was a "disgrace" that the Covid-19 infection rates for nurses and midwives was the "highest on earth".

He asked why the infection rate was so high in Ireland considering we had more time to prepare than most European countries.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said there were two policies that directly influenced this, including a lack of supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), which she said created a situation where supply was more important than protection.

She said the INMO had to lobby the Health Service Executive to seek to have a policy for the mandatory wearing of masks.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said a situation occurred where one of their members was sent off duty because she attended with a face covering.


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The member was advised by management that it was against HSE policy and she was sent home, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said, adding that it had become an industrial relations issue, which was resolved.

She told the committee that on 22 April the HSE's policy for the mandatory wearing of masks was introduced.

She said that from this date there was a big drop in the number of coronavirus infections among healthcare workers.

The mandatory wearing of masks should have been the case in every healthcare setting from the beginning of the crisis, according to Ms Ní Sheaghdha.

She said that Covid-19 testing and tracing was not and is still not sophisticated enough to determine who is infected and who is not.

She said that waiting for someone to develop a temperature before they started wearing PPE was a mistake.

Mr Donnelly said it was "absolutely extraordinary" that this could have happened to healthcare workers.

For Covid-19, the World Health Organization says that data to date suggests that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic; 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical, requiring ventilation.


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Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that frontline workers with children feel they have been "abandoned" because it is at their cost that they are attending work.

She told the committee that childcare had become a huge issue for nurses and midwives since Covid-19 restrictions were put in place.

She said that many workers had to rely on taking annual leave and changing and extending unpaid parental leave.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the additional costs to nurses and midwives of attending work should be repaid to them.

She said that when creches reopen there must be preferential treatment for frontline healthcare workers.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha added that the INMO is still not satisfied that proper consultation has taken place with frontline workers who are relying on the State for some of their childcare requirements.

She said that many members are female and lone parents, and the issue is more problematic for them.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Ms Ní Sheaghdha called for the reimbursement of annual leave to staff who had to use it to mind their children during the pandemic.

She said some had sacrificed their entire annual leave for the year and said "the State can do better than that".

She said in relation to childcare options for healthcare workers, they did not have any options and they are very critical of the fact that they were not consulted on plans.

Additional reporting: Aisling Kenny