Follow the latest coronavirus news in Ireland and across the world on the Independent.ie live blog.
Significant drop in retailer prices last month during lockdown
Squeezed Northern Ireland households have seen a significant drop in prices during the pandemic, retailers said.
They were down by almost 2.5pc while non-food specifically was reduced by 4.6pc UK-wide, May’s Shop Price Index said.
Non-essential stores have been closed since March but supermarkets have continued to trade.
Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers have worked very hard to keep prices affordable even though, for those who have been open, there has been a significant increase in costs to implement social distancing measures and to hire staff both to back fill jobs for colleagues who are shielding and for the growth of labour intensive modes of shopping such as delivery and click and collect.”
Public patients face ‘apocalyptic’ waiting lists and being ‘locked out’
Public patients are facing “apocalyptic” waiting lists and are in danger of being locked out of care, a consultant warned yesterday.
Dr Anthony O’Connor, a specialist in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin, has warned we need to have a roadmap to open up care, not just for private but also for public patients.
“One could have a situation where the private sector is allowed to operate as it normally does, but the public patients are still completely locked out of all elective care and all cancer care,” he said.
He was among a delegation from the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) that appeared before the Covid-19 Oireachtas committee yesterday where the State’s takeover of 19 private hospitals for three months was being probed.
The Cabinet decided not to renew the agreement, which costs between €97m and €100m a month, beyond the end of June.
One positive result at Spurs in latest Premier League COVID-19 tests
One person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest round of testing ahead of the Premier League’s restart on June 17, the league announced on Wednesday.
Tottenham Hotspur confirmed in a later statement that they received the one positive test.
In the three previous rounds of testing since players resumed training last month, there were 12 positives.
“The Premier League can today confirm that on Monday 1 June and Tuesday 2 June, 1197 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, one has tested positive,” it said in a statement https://www.premierleague.com/news/1670563.
“The individual who tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days.”
Spurs said that the person who tested positive was asymptomatic.
Total UK deaths due to Covid-19 passes 50,000
The number of deaths due to Covid-19 in the UK has now passed 50,000, according to the latest available data.
Figures published on Wednesday by the National Records of Scotland showed that 3,911 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 31.
On Tuesday, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 44,401 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to May 22 (and had been registered up to May 30).
And the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, published last week, showed 716 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in Northern Ireland up to May 22 (and had been registered up to May 27).
Together these figures mean that so far 49,028 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
Further deaths can be added to this total, concerning those deaths that have been reported as taking place since the period covered by the latest registration data.
Unemployment due to Covid-19 drops – but over a quarter of labour force still out of work
The unemployment rate fell to 26pc last month when those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis are included.
The latest official figures show the portion of the labour force out of work dropped 2.1pc to 26.1 in May, down from 28.2 in April.
This reflects a fall in the number of people claiming the pandemic unemployment payment as businesses reopened and others moved to a government wage subsidy scheme.
More than half of those aged 15 to 24 years – 51pc – were out of work compared with 22.5pc of people aged 25 to 74 years.
The standard unemployment rate, which does not include the Covid-19 claimants. rose from 5.4pc in April to 5.6pc.
Senior Central Statistics Office statistician, Edel Flannery, said the Covid-19 crisis has continued to have a significant impact on the labour market in Ireland in May 2020.
Rare Covid-19 syndrome in children ‘may be more common in African communities’
A rare syndrome in children linked to Covid-19 affects youngsters with African heritage more than those who are white, research suggests.
A small study of 21 children admitted to the Necker-Enfants Malades hospital in Paris found more than half (57pc) of youngsters had African heritage, compared with 29pc who were European and 10% who were Asian.
In mid-May in the UK, Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said 75 to 100 children had been affected in the UK so far.
A 14-year-old boy with no underlying health conditions treated at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital was the first British child to die from the syndrome.
Prof Viner stressed at the time that the condition was very rare, but said it appeared to occur mostly after coronavirus infection.
The main symptoms of the condition are a high and persistent fever and a rash, while some children also experience abdominal pain and gastrointestinal problems.
Dublin Airport passenger levies to be reviewed due to Covid-19
Assumptions made by the Commission for Aviation Regulation last year when it determined the maximum passenger charges that can be levied at Dublin Airport from 2020 to 2024 are “no longer valid” in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Commissioner Cathy Mannion.
The Commission said yesterday that it’s further reducing the price caps it had introduced for 2022 and 2023, by 13 cent and 7 cent respectively, following a complaint from Ryanair that the length of time given by the Commission to Dublin Airport to achieve operation efficiencies was excessive.
An Appeals Panel convened to examine the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) pricing determination was not convinced that four years were required to achieve the operating efficiencies target. The panel also said that it was not convinced that the CAR had determined if the efficiencies could be achievable over a shorter period of time.
Full article here:
MPs queuing to vote in Commons ‘appalling yet comical’
The UK Parliament is “not acting responsibly” by making parliamentarians line up around the Commons to vote in person, an SNP MP has said.
Pete Wishart criticised the UK Government for ending arrangements that allowed MPs to take part in business remotely.
He condemned the “appalling yet comical spectacle” of politicians joining lengthy queues around the Commons estate so they could vote in person in the Chamber.
With people in Scotland still being told to work from home if possible, Mr Wishart said the SNP has only had a “minimal” presence in London.
He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “This idea that there is a normal we should be returning to immediately is the false premise this is all based on.
“We’re not at a new normal, we’re still at the height of a pandemic and every institution has to act responsibly.
“Parliament yesterday was not acting responsibly.”
Breakdown of latest figures
Latest data from the HPSC, as of midnight on Monday (25,064 cases), reveals:
- 57pc are female and 43pc are male
- The median age of confirmed cases is 48 years
- 3,298 cases (13pc) have been hospitalised
- Of those hospitalised, 409 cases have been admitted to ICU
- 8,004 cases are associated with healthcare workers
- Dublin has the highest number of cases at 12,093 (48pc of all cases) followed by Cork with 1,517 cases (6pc) and then Kildare with 1,419 cases (6pc)
Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “Our recovery rate is now at 91pc. This is positive news and confirms the expectation that most people who get Covid-19 will recover.
“However, it remains the case that this is an unpredictable virus, and the prognosis for any one individual diagnosed, regardless of their current health, remains uncertain.”
Dr. Siobhán Kennelly, HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Older Persons added: “It is our collective responsibility to continue to support vulnerable groups in our society.
“Vulnerable groups include older people and people with underlying health conditions of any age. Keep a two-metre distance when outdoors, maintain respiratory etiquette and continue to wash hands regularly.”
Three more Covid-19-related deaths as 47 more cases confirmed
Three more Covid-19-related deaths have been registered as 47 more cases are confirmed.
There is now a total of 25,111 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, after the new cases were registered and the denotification of 2 confirmed cases.
Validation of data at the HPSC has also resulted in the denotification of two deaths.
The figure now stands at 1,659 Covid-19-related deaths in Ireland.
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet again Thursday 4 June to continue its review of Ireland’s response to COVID-19. NPHET will proceed to submit recommendations to the Minister for Health.”
Michael D Higgins delivers special message to 6th class pupils
President Michael D Higgins has delivered a special message to 6th class pupils, paying tribute to them for the way they have risen to the challenges of recent months.
The president has sent his best wishes to the 70,000 pupils who were not able to share the final months of primary school together and the rituals that go with it.
“The cancellation or postponement of Confirmations, sports days, school concerts, graduation ceremonies and other events which would traditionally mark and celebrate the end of your time in primary school will, no doubt, have been a source of disappointment for so many of you,” he stated.
How house parties have become the ultimate sin and can be scene for super-spreading
Lockdown house parties among groups who don’t live together are the new ultimate sin. They can become scenes for the super-spread of the coronavirus.
People may think they are not doing anyone any harm staying indoors and among their own group of friends.
But it is a perfect breeding ground for the virus.
And a legacy of revelries that were held over the bank holiday weekend may yet be seen in newly diagnosed cases of the infection in two weeks’ time.
Full article here:
Gradual easing of lockdown better for global supply chain, study suggests
Easing coronavirus lockdown measures over a 12-month period will minimise the impact on the global supply chain compared to lifting restrictions quickly, new research suggests.
The study, led by University College London (UCL) and Tsinghua University in China, assessed how the world’s economy could be affected by Covid-19 lockdowns.
It found that a gradual easing of restrictions – rather than lifting them over a two-month period and introducing a second lockdown in January next year – would be “less disruptive” for the global supply chain.
It also suggests that stricter lockdowns implemented over a shorter period of time were “economically preferable” to more moderate measures imposed for four to six months.
The peer-reviewed study, which was published on Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature Human Behaviour, said businesses can “absorb the shock” of a brief lockdown better by relying on reserves.
‘There’s a difference between 5km in an urban area and a rural area’ – Ministers wants changes to lockdown rules
Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring has called for changes to the lockdown rules, arguing there is a difference between 5km travel limit in an urban area and the same distance in a rural area.
Mr Ring said he had raised the issue of the difficulties facing people in rural areas as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions with his colleagues in Government.
Under current lockdown rules people are not permitted to travel 5km beyond their home.
The Government will decide before the end of the week whether to allow this limit to increase to 20km from next Monday under phase two of the reopening plan.
“I’ve raised that issue. There’s a difference between 5km in an urban area and a rural area and I hope that now that we’re coming into phase two of the lockdown that we’ll see changes,” Mr Ring told the Dáil on Wednesday.
Company taxes hold up amid €6bn hole in State finances during Covid-19 pandemic
The pandemic lockdowns punched a €6bn hole in Government finances as spending on welfare payments surged, although overall tax revenues held up remarkably well thanks to surging corporation receipts.
The monthly exchequer returns for May showed that voted spending had surged by a more than €5.2bn from a year ago, a level that was one quarter higher, to €26.1bn.
The overall deficit was €6.1bn at the end of May compared with a €63m deficit a year ago.
“The rise in expenditure primarily reflects increased departmental drawdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in relation to the Department of Health and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection,” the Department of Finance said today.
Portugal seeking ‘air bridge’ with UK to avoid quarantine
Portugal’s foreign minister has said his country is in discussions with the UK about “air bridges” so tourists can avoid being quarantined.
Augusto Santos Silva told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “quarantine is an enemy of tourism”.
He went on: “During these weeks our diplomats will work together in order to guarantee that British tourists coming to Portugal would not be subjected on their return to England to any kind of quarantine.”
Italy, another country popular with UK tourists, began allowing people to travel in, out and around the country for the first time in around three months on Wednesday.
Most people arriving in the UK from Monday will be told to isolate for 14 days in an attempt to prevent coronavirus cases being introduced from overseas.
Ibuprofen to be tested as treatment to reduce Covid-19 symptom
A new trial has been launched to assess whether ibuprofen may hold the key to preventing severe breathing problems in Covid-19 patients.
Experts are assessing whether a special formulation of the cheap drug could help reduce the serious side effect seen among patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
It is hoped that the special formulation of the cheap anti-inflammatory drug, to be delivered at a certain point in illness among hospital patients, will reduce severe respiratory illness.
This could potentially lead to shorter hospital stays and fewer patients needing help in intensive care units (ICU).
Child given plasma in UK coronavirus treatment trial
A child has become the first patient to receive a transfusion of plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus through a dedicated treatment trial.
Scientists say the randomised evaluation of Covid-19 therapy (recovery) trial tests existing treatments that may help people hospitalised with suspected or confirmed cases of the virus.
The randomly-selected patient is the first of any age to be transfused with Covid-19 convalescent plasma through the recovery trial, according to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).
The transfusion took place at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and the patient, who is under the age of 18, is also the first child to receive plasma through the NHSBT plasma programme.
Although patients have already received plasma through the REMAP-CAP trial, this was not focused solely on coronavirus and only adults in intensive care were able to receive the treatment, according to NHSBT.
Dublin Black Lives Matter protest cancelled due to social distancing fears
A Dublin-based Black Lives Matter Solidarity Protest has been cancelled due to fears that it will breach social distancing rules.
The organisers of the anti-racism protest said that the event, which was to be held on June 8 outside the US Embassy, has been called off due to “potential fears of prosecution”.
“We ask that people do not attend any protests in their own interests. We will share details of an alternative digital action,” organisers said on Twitter.
Cyprus brings forward lifting of many Covid-19 restrictions
Cyprus has accelerated the lifting of most of the country’s remaining coronavirus restrictions by three weeks, citing its consistently low infection rate since the May 4 end of a stay-at-home order.
The country’s health minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Wednesday the third phase of the country’s gradual rollback of restrictions will be completed by June 24 instead of July 14.
That means that as of June 9, shopping centres, airports and the interior seating spaces of hotels, bars and restaurants, open-air theatres and cinemas will be back in business.
Sports events without spectators, kindergartens, playgrounds, summer schools and school canteens also re-open on that date.
Casinos, dance schools, gyms, theme and water parks open their doors four days later.
A 10-person limit on public gatherings will stay in effect at least until June 24.
Bulmers maker losing €7m per month due to Covid restrictions
C&C, whose brands include Bulmers and Five Lamps, is currently losing €7m per month while pubs and restaurants are closed.
This excludes the furlough employee support currently circa €5m.
In March the UK and Irish governments announced major restrictions including the closure of pubs and restaurants in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The virtual shutdown of the hospitality sector has “materially impacted” C&C’s business, according to annual results from the group.
Watchdog rebukes UK government over Covid testing data
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been rebuked by the country’s statistics watchdog over coronavirus testing figures which are “still far from complete and comprehensible”.
UK Statistics Authority chairman David Norgrove said “it is not surprising that given their inadequacy data on testing are so widely criticised and often mistrusted”.
He criticised the way the figures are presented at the daily Downing Street briefings, with the headline total including both tests carried out and those which have been posted to recipients but not yet conducted.
Sweden now has world’s highest death rate after it decided to ignore lockdown advice
Sweden has taken the ignominious title of the country with the world’s highest death rate from Covid-19.
The title, which was briefly held by the UK late last month, comes after Swedish officials decided to ignore the lockdown advice of countless health experts and kept the country largely open during the pandemic.
The number of deaths per capita in Sweden is now more than four times that of its Nordic neighbours.
Over 70s can invite visitors into their homes from Monday – but no hugs for grandchildren
The over-70s will next week be able to invite their grandchildren and others into their homes for the first time in months, under the Government’s second phase of reopening the country.
However, children and adults will be told they must wear masks, gloves and stay strictly two metres away from the person who is cocooning.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is also considering opening playgrounds in some areas to ease the burden of the lockdown on children.
Source: Irish News