Follow the latest coronavirus news in Ireland and across the world on the Independent.ie live blog.
Two more people die of coronavirus with 66 new confirmed cases
A further two people have died of coronavirus in Ireland, the Department of Health has confirmed, bringing the total up to 1,652.
This is a rise of one on yesterday’s figures after the denotification of one death.
The Department also confirmed another 66 people have been diagnosed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Ireland to 24,990.
Britain reached 200,000 capacity testing yesterday, including capacity for 40,000 antibody tests a day
Elizabeth Piper, Reuters
Britain has reached its 200,000 capacity testing target for the coronavirus, including the means for 40,000 antibody tests a day on Saturday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson set the target of reaching 200,000 tests a day by the end of the month, with aides later saying it was an operational target for Britain to have the capacity to do that number of tests.
“Reaching our 200,000 capacity target is an important milestone on our journey to control the spread of the virus, save lives and gradually ease lockdown,” health minister Matt Hancock said in a statement.
“By rapidly expanding our testing capacity, we have been able to introduce NHS (National Health Service) Test and Trace, and enabling those who have coronavirus symptoms to get a test is an important part of the programme.”
Emirates airline lays off trainee pilots, cabin crew due to pandemic – sources
Alexander Cornwell, Reuters
Emirates airline said on Sunday it had made some staff redundant due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with two company sources saying trainee pilots and cabin crew had been affected.
“We reviewed all possible scenarios in order to sustain our business operations, but have come to the conclusion that we unfortunately have to say goodbye to a few of the wonderful people that worked with us,” a spokeswoman said.
“The company is doing everything possible to protect the workforce wherever we can,” she added.
The state-owned airline, which has around 60,000 employees and is part of the Emirates Group, did not say how many staff had been affected by the job cuts.
Emirates said on May 10 that a Dubai government commitment to provide it with “equity injections” would allow it to preserve its skilled workforce.
Emirates Group’s airport services subsidiary data has also laid off some staff and placed thousands of others on unpaid leave.
People are more important than the economy, pope says about Covid crisis
Philip Pullella, Reuters
Pope Francis said on Sunday that people are more important than the economy, as countries decide how quickly to reopen their countries from coronavirus lockdowns.
Francis made his comments, departing from a prepared script, at the first noon address from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square in three months as Italy’s lockdown drew to an end.
“Healing people, not saving (money) to help the economy (is important), healing people, who are more important than the economy,” Francis said.
“We people are temples of the Holy Spirit, the economy is not,” he said.
Francis did not mention any countries. Many governments are deciding whether to reopen their economies to save jobs and living standards, or whether to maintain lockdowns until they are sure the virus is fully under control.
The pope’s words were met with applause by hundreds of people in the square, many of whom wore masks and kept several metres from each other. The square was reopened to the public last Monday. Normally tens of thousands attend on a Sunday.
The last time the pope delivered his message and blessing from the window was March 1, before Italy, where more than 33,000 people have died from the virus, imposed a lockdown. The last restrictions will be lifted on Wednesday.
Francis led the crowd in silent prayer for medical workers who lost their lives by helping others.
WATCH: ‘Flying is going to be different’ – Aer Lingus unveils new health and safety measures for passengers
Aer Lingus outlined measures it is introducing at airports and on-board its aircraft to protect the health of its customers and staff. They apply now, and to all future Aer Lingus services once business and leisure flying picks up.
No new surge and it’s safe to fly, says Nobel scientist
The Stanford professor agrees with Michael O’Leary on air travel. He tells Niamh Horan that Ireland should get its economy going again
Irish Covid-19 doctor and budding pop artist says music is a ‘lifeline’ in midst of pandemic
An Irish doctor who is working in a Covid-19 ward in University Hospital Galway has said that music is a “lifeline” in the midst of a pandemic.
Conor Waters (28) from Claremorris in Co Mayo is also a budding musician in his spare time and has been using music as a relaxation tool with his musical project Stepping on Lego.
While on a medical scheme at the Mayo Clinic in America, he decided to return to UHG, where he had been working for several years, in mid-March to help out with the crisis.
‘Operators need a bailout’ – The tourism expert tasked with Ireland’s post-Covid recovery
After a life in tourism, Ruth Andrews must now help plot a route for the sector around its biggest challenges yet, writes Gabrielle Monaghan
Malta to reopen its airport on July 1
Malta will reopen its airport to passenger flights on July 1, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday, as the Mediterranean island rolls back restrictions introduced in March to halt COVID-19 infections.
Tourism accounts for almost a quarter of Malta’s economy and hoteliers have been pressing the government to reopen the airport or risk mass unemployment.
The southern Mediterranean island has recorded some 600 coronavirus cases and nine deaths, having carried out an intensive testing and contact tracing programme. Non-essential shops and restaurants were allowed to reopen in mid-May, but churches on the Roman Catholic island and schools remain closed. Bars and gyms will reopen next Friday.
“These are exciting time for Malta. We are returning to normality,” Abela said.
He said the government will also announce a budget on June 8 with the aim of encouraging consumption and investment. The budget is normally announced in October.
Creches want €60m in aid for this year
Health guidelines will impose severe limit on numbers of children and push up costs, writes Hugh O’Connell and Maeve Sheehan
Entrepeneur designs ‘head box’ for treating coronavirus patients
David Young, PA
An entrepreneurial designer has teamed up with medical experts to produce a new protective product for treating coronavirus patients.
The clear one-piece head box developed by Michael Knight shields clinical staff when they are performing procedures that result in patients expelling aerosol spray.
Mr Knight is managing director of Co Down company Donite Plastics, which uses specialist heat technology – thermoforming – to mass produce moulded plastics.
For the last six weeks he was been working with innovation experts from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to design the box for use when medics are intubating Covid-19 patients or connecting them to ventilators.
As those procedures result in patients expelling spray, they bring with them a high risk of virus transmission.
The inspiration for the project came during a conversation Mr Knight had with a friend, Dr Madalina McCrea, who works as a consultant anaesthetist in Northern Ireland’s Western Trust.
Mr Knight told the PA news agency: “Mada knew I made things from plastic and we were chatting about a device that would sit over a patient’s head, whether in a ward or an intensive care unit which would allow the medical practitioner to work on the patient, but also to protect them and the patient when carrying out procedures.
“There were pictures on the internet of very simple square acrylic boxes being used for this purpose in Taiwan during the height of their Covid-19 epidemic.”
HSE told to correct list of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes
The leaking of disputed figures about Covid-19 deaths in care homes has shocked residents, writes Maeve Sheehan
Mosques reopen across Saudi Arabia with strict measures
Aya Batrawy, Associated Press
Tens of thousands of mosques across Saudi Arabia have reopened for the first time in more than two months, but worshippers have been ordered to follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus and Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remains closed to the public.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims after Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Medina, also reopened for prayers on Sunday for the first time since it was closed in mid-March.
Throngs waited outside the holy site’s gates before it opened, with many wearing surgical masks. As they were allowed to enter, the faithful stopped to have their temperature checked.
The mosque was one of Jerusalem’s many holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall, that were restricted to worshippers at the height of Israel’s coronavirus outbreak. Throughout that period, worshippers continued to pray in the alleyways outside the mosque.
In Saudi Arabia, the government prepared for the reopening of around 90,000 mosques by sanitising prayer rugs, washrooms and shelves holding copies of the Koran.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said millions of text messages were sent to people in multiple languages to inform them about the new rules for public prayer, which include keeping two metres apart, wearing face masks at all times and abstaining from greeting one another with handshakes or hugs.
Sunshine raises worries over social distancing as sunseekers flock to the beaches
As the country basked in glorious sunshine yesterday there was concern about people failing to adhere to restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
It came as health officials appealed the public to adopt a cautious approach as the number of new cases jumped 50pc yesterday compared with the previous evening.
Any increase in cases will be met with concern among officials as the country edges closer to entering phase two of the road map to reopen the country.
‘Could we have done better? Yes, of course,’ – Minister Jim Daly on nursing home Covid crisis
Minister Jim Daly is under scrutiny over despair wrought on nursing homes by Covid-19, writes Maeve Sheehan
Move to scrap travel limit from June 29 to save summer
Senior government figures are optimistic the roadmap can be accelerated if promising signs are backed up by data, writes political correspondent Hugh O’Connell.
WATCH: Premier League gets all-clear but EFL announces 17 positive coronavirus tests
The Premier League has revealed there were no positive results from its latest round of Covid-19 testing, providing a timely confidence boost for the planned June 17 restart.
A total of 1,130 players and club personnel were tested in the fourth screening session, which took place on Thursday and Friday, and yielded the first all-clear.
Six million infected with virus worldwide
Brian Melley and John Seewar, Associated Press
Coronavirus has infected more than six million people across the world and killed more than 369,000, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
There are virus outbreak fears across America and the mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of US cities hit by massive protests after the police killing of a black man, has warned demonstrators they have put themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus and should get tested.
As emergency orders imposed at the start of the pandemic are lifted and beaches and businesses reopen across America, protests have now been added to the list of concerns about a possible second wave of infections.
There are similar concerns in Paris and Hong Kong, where anti-government protesters have accused police of using social distancing rules to break up their rallies.
Health experts fear silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unwittingly infect others at gatherings with people packed cheek to jowl and cheering and jeering, many without masks.
One protester said she has no choice but to demonstrate.
“It’s not okay that in the middle of a pandemic we have to be out here risking our lives,” Spence Ingram, a black woman, said after marching with other protesters to the state capitol in Atlanta on Friday.
“But I have to protest for my life and fight for my life all the time.”
Source: Irish News