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Third death and 191 new cases of coronavirus reported in Republic of Ireland, bringing total to 557

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a visit to the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College Dublin, in Belfield, Dublin. Photo credit: Aidan Crawley/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a visit to the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College Dublin, in Belfield, Dublin. Photo credit: Aidan Crawley/PA Wire

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a visit to the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College Dublin, in Belfield, Dublin. Photo credit: Aidan Crawley/PA Wire

The Republic of Ireland has suffered its biggest rise yet in new cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours with another 191 infected.

The daily number of new cases has now rocketed in the past week as the surge in patients presenting to GP for testing has continues unabated.

Patients can be waiting up to five days after being referred by their GP for a test to the point where they give a swab and they face another wait of up to forty eight hours for a result.

They need to self isolate once their GP deems them a suspected case for the virus.

A third death has also been reported.

It comes as the death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy rose in the last 24 hours by 427 to 3,405, overtaking the total number of deaths so far registered in China, officials said on Thursday.

Thursday's figure represented a slight improvement on the day before, when Italy recorded 475 deaths.

Some 3,245 people have died in China since the virus first emerged there late last year. Italy's outbreak came to light in the north of the country on February 21.

On Wednesday, the full extent of the grip the coronavirus has on the Republic of Ireland was revealed for the first time – spreading to 23 counties and infecting one baby.

Figures from the Department of Health revealed worrying trends, including the impact it is having on those caring for the sick with health workers making up one in five of those who fell victim to the infection.

A fifth of the 271 infected up to Monday picked it up without knowing the source of the infection, confirming it is now circulating in the community.

Six patients have ended up in intensive care units and 84 were hospitalised.

Four in 10 were infected abroad and 17pc got the virus from another person who was positive.

One in five positive patients is still “under investigation”. Two-thirds are under 55 years of age and nearly one in four is aged 35-44, signalling how it is hitting young age groups.

Two-thirds of cases reported as of Monday are younger than 55 years, with almost one in four aged 35-44 years.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 129, followed by Cork with 48 and Limerick which recorded 14.

The figures show an infant under one year of age caught the virus. Four children aged five to 14 years of age have also tested positive.

And 28 people between 15 and 24 were also found to be positive.

Suspected cases who are referred by their GP for testing are being told they can wait several days for a result.

Health Minister Simon Harris said it is impossible to predict when the Government will start advising older and vulnerable people to remain "cocooned" indoors as was signalled by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Systems are being worked on to ensure they will get food, supplies and be checked on.

Older people without family and social support are urged to give their details to their local Garda station where gardai will help out collecting prescriptions and other supports .

Irish Independent