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New measures announced to help nursing homes protect themselves from coronavirus

Testing for staff, personal protective equipment and a financial support scheme were announced by Health Minister Simon Harris.

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Street art in Dublin showing health workers wearing face masks as the coronavirus outbreak continues in Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Street art in Dublin showing health workers wearing face masks as the coronavirus outbreak continues in Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Street art in Dublin showing health workers wearing face masks as the coronavirus outbreak continues in Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Ireland’s Minister for Health Simon Harris has announced measures to help nursing homes protect themselves from a coronavirus outbreak.

There are 40 clusters – three or more Covid-19 cases at institutions within 72 hours – in nursing homes.

Staff screening will start in nursing homes twice a day, with testing prioritised for staff, and access will be provided to personal protective equipment (PPE), expert advice and training.

Staff movement across residential facilities will be minimised and the HSE will support staff with alternative accommodation and transport if required.

Additionally, a temporary Covid-19 financial support scheme will be established in the coming days to support the critical services provided by nursing homes.

This will provide a temporary assistance payment to support private and voluntary nursing homes in managing any outbreak that occurs.

On Saturday it was announced that 17 more patients diagnosed with Covid-19 had died in Ireland, bringing the overall death toll to 137.

And 331 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of detections to 4,604.

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Shoppers and security staff on Henry Street in Dublin as the Covid-19 crisis continues (Niall Carson/PA)

Shoppers and security staff on Henry Street in Dublin as the Covid-19 crisis continues (Niall Carson/PA)

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Shoppers and security staff on Henry Street in Dublin as the Covid-19 crisis continues (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Harris said the new measures were aimed at supporting the nursing home sector.

“The nursing home sector cares for one of the most precious and vulnerable groups in our society,” he said.

“We must do everything we can to support them to help break the transmission of the virus.

“To this end we are extending supports to this sector so that they can continue their role in the overall public health response to Covid-19. Our goal in these challenging times is to protect our older people, wherever they are living.

“We must also support staff working in nursing homes and ensure their safety and health as we continue to deal with this pandemic.

“It is vital we leave nobody behind as we navigate our way out of this pandemic.”

PA