Covid-19: Three deaths and 457 new cases reported

Numbers being vaccinated out of turn ‘marginal’ but ‘regrettable’, says health service boss

Three deaths and 457 new Covid-19 cases have been reported by National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Sunday.

There have now been a total of 4,718 coronavirus-related deaths in Ireland.

As of midnight, Saturday, April 3rd, there have been a total of 238,148 confirmed cases.

And as of April 1st, 893,375 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland, with 636,963 people having received their first dose and 256,412 people having received their second dose.


Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has said Sunday’s positive cases and reported deaths will be made available on Monday.

“The Covid 19 dashboard will not be updated today Sunday 4 April,” the deapartment said in a tweet.

Positive cases and reported deaths will be available tomorrow Monday April 5th.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid has defended the Covid-19 vaccination rollout amid reports of non-patient-facing workers “skipping the queue” for vaccines.

There has been increased concern that a number of ineligible people have received the vaccine under Cohort 2, which is supposed to be frontline healthcare workers.

Speaking to Gavan Reilly on Newstalk’s On The Record, Mr Reid said the number of people being vaccinated against Covid-19 out of turn was “marginal”, and it was “regrettable” that it had happened.

“It’s completely wrong for somebody who’s not at risk, or not exposed in a healthcare setting, to be vaccinated. There has been some of those instances.

“Those breaches are serious . . . there have been a number of incidences. Some are going through assessment, some are going through very public reports, some have had reports concluded on them, some are for private organisations to assess and make their own judgements. We certainly do that throughout the HSE as well.”

He said the validation process for the online registration portal that people used to get vaccine appointments, which was intended for healthcare workers, needed to be strengthened.

However, he said that if people did manage to book appointments to be vaccinated, they may have been turned away at the vaccination site if they could not provide sufficient identification.

Mr Reid added that the public portal will be a different process, and more biographical details will be required. People will also be required to go to a specific vaccination centre and will have to bring identification.

He added that vaccination numbers for frontline healthcare workers include people who do not work for the HSE. “[It’s] public and private healthcare workers. It’s not just hospital staff, it’s about people who are providing health services to the public, that we want to keep going. So, physios, pharmacies, many people who are involved in providing services.”

He added that the vaccination programme so far has been based on trust. “It’s geared towards protecting those who are most vulnerable.”

Mr Reid also defended the new age-based rollout, which will start as soon as those over 16 who are high risk are vaccinated.

He said changes to the National Immunisation Advisory Council were made in line with clinical guidance and the evidence shows that age is the best indicator of serious illness and hospitalisation.

On Saturday, The Irish Times reported coronavirus variants classified by public health officials as being “of concern” are being detected in the State without a link to international travel.

The issue is noted in the minutes of a National Public Health Emergency Team meeting last month, which state that “complex contact tracing” of these cases is ongoing.

New variants

According to minutes posted this week, the team heard that the Health Protection Surveillance Centre “continues to follow up probable cases of new variants in clusters of new outbreaks. Of note, ongoing complex contact tracing of some clusters of probable variants of concern have not yet found a link to international travel.”

Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, on Friday expressed concern about Covid-19 variants being identified without a link to travel.

“We have an opportunity to try and control the importation of the other variants of concern,” he said. “Ideally we would like to ensure that there aren’t ongoing networks of transmission of these variants in the community that we don’t know about.”

Dr de Gascun said the “greatest concern” would be an undetected case of a variant in a care facility, workplace or school leading to a “super-spreading event” .

“The problem is if we don’t contain it, it is only a matter of time before it gets into a super-spreading event,” he said, adding that one of the reasons for setting up walk-in test centres in some areas was to try to detect variants.

Mr Reid separately told RTÉ’s This Week programme that there were certainly some people who received a vaccine outside of the official schedule, but that the vast majority did not skip the queue.

However he said he did not have details on the number of cases involved. “Where breaches have happened . . . they’ve caused us as much frustration as the public”.

Mr Reid said that some hospitals in January and February, when they were facing large outbreaks of Covid -19 , vaccinated some people who were not necessarily on the front line. But he said the hospital believed there was a huge risk of of staff bringing the virus into the hospital.

He said the HSE fully supported the Government’s plan to move the vaccination schedule to an age-based rather than occupation-based system.