The Chief Medical Officer has said the burden of the coronavirus and the impact it is having are increasing.

Dr Tony Holohan was speaking at this evening's news briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Another 1,269 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed today, along with 13 more deaths.

Here's what we learned from today's briefing:


Mental health

The HSE said it wanted to move from online calls back to home visits and community day hospital consultations.

Dr Siobhán Ni Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and HSE Integrated Care Lead, said the service was maintained at 90% at the start of the pandemic and community care is a vital part of the delivery of this.

She said older people are more likely to suffer from anxiety and loneliness while younger people are
more likely to suffer from thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Dr Ni Bhrian said it is not translating into actual suicide numbers but the HSE is very aware of it and the mental health services are building up responses to it.


School transmission

Dr Heather Burns, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said schools are not key drivers of Covid-19 transmission in the community.

She said: "The more we reduce community transmission we can protect the schools".

The positivity rate of close contact in the school setting is 2.8% with the current national positivity rate is running at about 7.2%.

Dr Burns said that a lot of work has been done at a public health level in relation to schools.


Taking control of virus

The Chief Medical Officer said that getting Covid-19 back under control "will take a big societal effort" to comply with the Level 5 restrictions being introduced by the Government.

Dr Tony Holohan said the burden and impact of the virus are increasing.


Public health system

Dr Holohan also called on people to help slow the spread of the virus.

He said: "It is now over to each one of us as individuals in society to do everything that we individually can" to curb the spread of the virus.

Dr Holohan said that when the virus is under control, the response capacity of the public health system "will be the key thing to protect us".


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Meanwhile, legislation to allow for the issuing of fines for breaches of restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 is set to be passed by the Oireachtas within days.

It will pave the way for on-the-spot fine of up to €500 for those who hold house parties, travel beyond the five-kilometre limit or refuse to wear a face covering.

along with penalties for people who travel beyond the five-kilometre travel limit.

The Cabinet has also decided to increase the number of people who can attend a funeral during the period of Level 5 measures from 10 to 25 and agreed to ban evictions while people's movements have been restricted.

And the Government updated its guidance on support bubbles meaning that, now, anyone living alone can form a bubble with another household.

The measure covers the following groups:

  • if you are living alone with children under the age of 18
  • if you live alone
  • if you share parenting or custody arrangements
  • if you live with an adult you provide care for (for example a dependent adult relation or a partner with dementia)
  • if you live by yourself and have a carer or carers who support you, including a live-in carer