Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

07.57 16 Apr 2020


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The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan says the criteria for testing of COVID-19 will likely be expanded next week.

It comes as the numbers presenting at test centres has fallen significantly in recent days, with a particular drop in the number of referrals from GPs in the community.

Only those with underlying conditions and who are displaying symptoms are currently eligible for a test.

The total number of deaths in the Republic has reached 444, while the total number of cases now stands at 12,547.

Currently, strict coronavirus restrictions are in place until May 5th - and officials are continuing to consider how those measures could be eased from early next month.

Dr Holohan said if there's to be any easing of restrictions, it is important the case definition is expanded so more people are tested.

He explained: "If we are to consider in advance of the 5th of May changing any of the restrictions in place, we will want to have had that more sensitive case definition in place for a period of time to see what the impact of that is.

"We will build our testing and contact tracing capacity, and have some experience of that before we get to the 5th of May."

Meanwhile, a medical expert has said we're going to have to have physical and social distancing measures in 'some way, shape or form' for some time yet.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Professor Liam Glynn - from the Graduate Entry Medical School at UL and GP in Ballyvaughan in Clare - said the coronavirus crisis is a 'marathon not a sprint'.

He observed: "This is not going to be over in a flick of a switch.

"The only way this is going to be under control is when over half the population of the world has achieved immunity to this condition: either immunity is gained through infection and survival from infection, or vaccination.

“The unfortunate thing is we’re going to have to continue a lot of these physical and social distancing measures.

"We’re going to have to continue those in some way, shape or form. We’re going to have to protect our vulnerable on an ongoing basis."

Prof Glynn said the growth rate of new cases here appears to have 'stablised' at around 5% per day.

However, he stressed that a small percentage of a large number is still a large number.

He explained: “We have to be wary of the fact that we are seeing a significant number of new cases every day.

"The message is we have to keep this going - we have to get this suppressed to a level where we aren’t going to overwhelm our hospital system, and a level where we can handle that number of new cases."

He stressed that people have been 'tremendous' so far in following the guidelines, and that we'd be seeing far more cases if there measures hadn't been followed at both population and individual levels.

Main image: Pictured are (l to r) Dr Siobhan Ni Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and HSE Integrated Care Lead; and Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

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