While the neighboring United Kingdom struggles to tackle the virus, Ireland celebrated yesterday some good news amid the coronavirus pandemic – the country reported no deaths due to the virus for the first since March and only 59 new positive cases.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said it was a “day of hope” and described it as a “significant milestone” for the country. “First day with no reported #CoVid19 deaths since March 21st. This is a day of hope. We will prevail,” he wrote in his Twitter account.
Significant milestone today. First day with no reported #CoVid19 deaths since March 21st. This is a day of hope. We will prevail.
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) May 25, 2020
For the country’s chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan the declining number of new cases and reported deaths shows Ireland has “suppressed” COVID-19. Nevertheless, he said no new deaths being reported might be down to the weekend and delays in the reporting of fatalities
Holohan warned against “anticipatory behavior” from people moving ahead of advice and perceiving the risk of catching the virus to be lower. He said “it has taken strict measures to achieve this,” adding that in a week it will be clearer whether Ireland can move into a new phase of the lockdown.
The Irish government gave the green light this month to the first wave of relaxations of the lockdown, allowing people of up to four persons not from the same household to meet outdoors while maintaining strict social distancing. The second phase is earmarked for June 8th.
Workers in Ireland such as hairdressers and restaurant owners have recently urged the two-meter social distancing rule to be halved so they can reopen quicker. Holohan said that the State’s National Public Health Emergency Team kept this “under constant review” but felt that two meters was “a reasonable compromise given where we are.”
The second of five phases will allow visits to households and see the reopening of libraries and small shops which can properly social distance. The final phase is set to begin on 10 August. Holohan said small clusters of cases could occur as restrictions are eased but that the country would be prepared.
“This is a highly transmissible virus. The fact that more cases might occur isn’t necessarily a sign that we haven’t succeeded in terms of applying our measures. I think we’d be a much better position to deal with that than we might have been in February had that occurred in that way,” Holohan said.
The 59 new positive cases of coronavirus reported in Ireland brought the total number of 24,698, with a death toll at 1,606. The success in limiting the spread of the virus contrasts with other European countries, including the UK – with the second-worst death toll in the world.
Last week, the UK registered 4,210 deaths involving Covid-19, bringing the total death toll to more than 47,000. Restrictions in the UK have been laxer than in Ireland, with no limits to open-air recreating. Meeting a person from another household is also authorized and non-essential shopping will soon be allowed.