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Coronavirus Ireland Live Updates: Seven further deaths and 28 new cases confirmed

Follow the latest coronavirus news in Ireland and across the world on the Independent.ie live blog.

19.52 05/06/2020

2020 championship set for October start as GAA reveal return to play road-map


Groups of 15 players can train in a group from June 8. David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The 2020 championship is set for an October start according to the GAA’s return to play plan.

The GAA aim to commence its inter-county championships no sooner than Saturday October 17, but club competitions can get up and running from Friday July 31, the association’s ‘return to activity’ plan has confirmed.

But inter-county teams won’t be permitted to return to training next week despite the Government’s earlier unwinding of Covid-19 emergency restrictions, which allows for elite athletes in 21 sports to convene in groups up to a maximum of 15.

Irish fashion designer inundated with orders for bespoke bridal face masks


Facing up to new reality: Asta Jakubson shows off one of her creations outside her shop in Dunshaughlin

A fashion designer has been inundated with requests for her bespoke face masks for brides.

Asta Jakubson, from Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, says she has been rushed off her feet producing custom masks for women who want to protect themselves and their guests while also looking their best on their big day.

The talented Lithuanian-born designer was just one of 10 international designers selected to showcase their work at Paris Fashion Week last year.

18.17 05/06/2020

WATCH: ‘We have earned the right to be hopeful’

17.55 05/06/2020

Further seven deaths and 28 new cases announced

The coronavirus death toll in Ireland has risen to 1,670 after seven further deaths were recorded.

28 new cases have also been confirmed.

In total, there have been 25,163 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, as of midnight, Wednesday 3 June, reveals:

57pc are female and 43pc are male

· the median age of confirmed cases is 48 years

· 3,312 cases (13pc) have been hospitalised

· Of those hospitalised, 410 cases have been admitted to ICU

· 8,046 cases are associated with healthcare workers

· Dublin has the highest number of cases at 12,118 (48pc of all cases) followed by Cork with 1,527 cases (6pc) and then Kildare with 1,419 cases (6pc)

· Of those for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 39pc, close contact accounts for 59pc, travel abroad accounts for 2pc.

17.32 05/06/2020

Irish Olympic Federation welcomes opening designated training centres and easing travel restrictions for elite athletes

Reports Gabija Gataveckaite

As part of next week’s restriction easing, elite athletes will be able to resume training in special centres and their travel restrictions will be eased.

This news has been welcomed by the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI).

Chef de Mission for Team Ireland in Tokyo, Tricia Heberle said: “We are delighted to see athletes and sports return to their training centres and know that this will bring relief to the many athletes who can get back to their job of preparing for the Olympic Games next year.”

Earlier reopening of hotels ‘a welcome boost’

Reports Gabija Gataveckaite

An earlier reopening of hotels and the tourism industry as part of the accelerated roadmap has been welcomed by the Irish Hotels Federation.

Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation said that this is “excellent news”

“The earlier reopening of hotels is excellent news and a welcome boost for the tourism community across the country, as well as for people of all ages who are looking for a well-deserved holiday after lockdown,” she said.

“Hotels have already begun to adapt their services and facilities in anticipation of reopening under COVID-19 guidelines as they prepare to reopen and welcome guests from the end of June.”

The federation is working with Failte Ireland to develop operational standards across hotel operations and facilities before reopening.

“We are seeing great examples of creativity, innovativeness and flexibility in terms of how hotels and guesthouses are using their property’s spaces as well as rethinking services, restaurant and leisure facilities so that guests can relax and enjoy their break, secure in the knowledge that they are staying in a safe environment,” she added.

Framework documents for churches and sacraments to return from June 29 to be published next week


Archbishop Eamon Martin. Picture: Tony Gavin

A framework document with guidance for churches and sacraments, which will be returning on June 29, will be published next week.

Archbishop Eamon Martin welcomed the Taoiseach’s announcement for reopening the country this afternoon.

“I welcome this news and like other priests in Ireland I am greatly looking forward to celebrating public Mass and the sacraments soon with our congregations,” he said.

“Next week, the bishops of Ireland will meet for the first time over video-call for our Summer General Meeting,” he said.

“We will finalise our framework document for the return to Mass and the sacraments which will offer best practice to parishes as we begin to fully reopen parish life again.

He commended dioceses and parishes for undertaking preparations.

“I wish to commend dioceses and parishes for undertaking preparations to facilitate the safe return of the faithful to public worship in a measured way, and for their reaching out to parishioners in very difficult circumstances during the lockdown which included the broadcasting of Mass and other prayer opportunities by webcam,” the Archbishop added.

17.15 05/06/2020

Holiday Q&A: What countries are open, what is an ‘air bridge’, and why can’t I renew my passport?

Italy is open, Ryanair is ready for take-off, and Ireland’s Roadmap is being fast-tracked. So where does that leave holidaymakers this summer? Travel editor Pól Ó Conghaile reports.

Iran says coronavirus restrictions could return if second wave hits


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking in the country’s parliament (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Babak Dehghanpisheh, Reuters

Iran’s president warned the public on Wednesday that restrictions may have to be reimposed to fight the coronavirus if the country is hit by a second wave of infections, after authorities announced the most new cases in a day since March.

Iran has suffered the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, forcing it to impose a lockdown that damaged an economy already reeling from the imposition of U.S. sanctions. Restrictions have been gradually lifted since April but have been reimposed in some areas after localised outbreaks.

The health ministry, cited by state media, reported 3,134 new infections in the past twenty four hours, the most since March 30, bringing the total to 160,696. Seventy new deaths brought the toll to 8,012.

“If in any part of the country these warnings aren’t taken seriously and God forbid the outbreak of illness peaks again, the authorities will have to reimpose restrictions,” President Hassan Rouhani said in remarks on his website.

“This issue will create problems for the ordinary life of citizens and will also bring serious economic damage to the society.”

Government employees went back to work and mosques resumed daily prayers on Saturday as part of the relaxation of the lockdown.

Authorities had to reimpose restrictions in the southern provinces of Khuzestan and Sistan Baluchestan in mid-May after an uptick of cases there.

Trips should only be taken for essential matters, Rouhani said on Wednesday. In late May, state media published photos of highways in northern Iran packed with cars as Iranians flocked to the Caspian region, a popular vacation area, during the Eid-al-Fitr holiday.

16.33 05/06/2020

Phase Two: Increased training numbers and a return for racing as sport handed boost

Sport has been given a boost in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions, with the government giving the all clear for up to 15 people to train in a group from June 8.

Horse and greyhound racing will also be able to resume behind closed doors when phase two of the road-map begins on Monday. Groups of up to 15, including trainers and coaches, may return to non-contact outdoor training activity (but not matches) while maintaining social distancing at all times.

This move comes ahead of a GAA meeting to ratify their own return to play road-map, with rugby already scheduled to resume at the end of August and League of Ireland discussions ongoing.

WATCH: What will Phase Two of Ireland reopening look like?

15.35 05/06/2020

The roadmap has been accelerated – but what restrictions are being eased?

Reports Gabija Gataveckaite

The government has made a decision to ease restrictions from next week, scrapping a phase to reopen the country quicker. Phase 3 will start on the 29th of June, and Phase 4 on the 20th of July – here is a summary of how Ireland’s roadmap is being sped up, as Phase 2.0 kicks in from next Monday, June 8:

‘Stay Home’ message has been replaced with ‘Stay Local’

For cocooners-

  • can welcome up to six visitors to their homes, while keeping a physical distance

  • shops will also provide dedicated hours for those who are over 70 or in an at risk group


  • From Monday, people can travel within their own county, or up to 20 km from their homes, whichever is greater.

  • It is planned to remove these domestic travel restrictions all together at the start of Phase 3, on the 29th of June.

Meeting friends, social events and sports

  • groups of up to six people will be able to meet with each other indoors or outdoors, once they keep at least 2m apart.

  • Groups of up to 15 people can meet for outdoor sporting activities

  • Up to 25 people will be allowed to attend funerals of loved ones

  • libraries will re-open on Monday

  • Elite athletes may return to their training facilities.

  • Marts can re-open and greyhound racing resume without spectators.

For workers:

  • Those who work alone can return to their workplaces as can people who maintain a physical distance from others in their workplace, on a phased based.
  • Working from home should remain the norm for those who can

For children:

  • Outdoor facilities and amenities for children – including commercial ones – can re-open
  • Proposals will be brought forward for a new Summer Education Programme for children with special educational needs and disadvantage next week

  • Playgrounds once supervised can reopen on Monday, and outdoor camps for children can also be run, once there are no more than 15 people mixing together.


Tourism and pubs:

  • Hotels, restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries and museums will reopen on June 29

  • Bars that also operate as restaurants will also reopen

Hairdressers, barbers and nail bars:

  • These will reopen on July 20, phase four.

15.10 05/06/2020

Press briefing from government buildings with taoiseach Leo Varadkar, health minister Simon Harris, business minister Heather Humphreys and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan:

  • “We’re not running our way through a plan,” said Simon Harris.
  • A non-Covid care plan will be considered by health chiefs for all hospitals
  • It is up to local authorities to provide outside space for bars and restaurants

15:05 05/06/2020

Shopping centres to open from June 15 and some pubs to reopen by end of month – Varadkar fast-tracks opening up of country


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Kevin Doyle and Philip Ryan

Irish people have “earned the right to be hopeful about the future again” as the roadmap to reopen the country is accelerated, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

The five phases in the original road will now be reduced to just four, allowing for the ‘new normal’ to take full effect on July 20.

Mr Varadkar said this was “made possible because of the considerable sacrifices you have made”.

However, he warned that the fast-tracking of measures did not mean that the Government will automatically move through the phases on the dates set out. He said any increase in the virus could set the situation back.

“Fear has exerted a kind of gravity pulling us down, but now we find there is hope pulling us up again. We are heading the right direction.

“We have earned the right to be hopeful about the future again,” he said.

The Taoiseach said he was accelerating the roadmap because the data was going in the right direction and they also learned from the experience of other countries.

Mr Varadkar said Gardaí will enforce a new ‘Stay Local’ rule, meaning you should stay in your own county. The travel limit will be removed in Phase Three which is due to kick in on June 29.

Groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet indoors from Monday and up to 15 people can meet for outdoor sports activities.

Summer camps are back on the cards as are other outdoor activities for children.

Mr Varadkar said he wanted to open the entire country to travel at the end of the month and allow hotels to operate within social distancing guidelines to kick start the tourism industry.

The Taoiseach said he wanted to make it “possible to explore our country as if for the first time and rediscover the beauty that is all around us”.

“Summer is not lost,” Mr Varadkar said as he announced the return of the tourism and hospitality sector on June 29.

He said bars will be allowed to reopen on this date if they serve food and operate table service only.

He said playgrounds will reopen on Monday and outdoor camps can begin as long as there are no more than 15 people involved.

The number of people permitted to attend funerals is to be increased from 10 to 25 Churches and other places of worship will reopen from June 29.

Mr Varadkar began his speech by quoting Roman statesman Cicero who said: “The safety of the people shall be the highest law.”

He concluded his by quoting the Peter Jackon movie Lord of the Rings.

“But in the end,

it’s only

a passing thing,

this shadow.

Even darkness must pass.

A new day will come.

And when the sun shines

it will shine out

the clearer,”

he said.

15:00 05/06/2020

Taoiseach Leoadkar’s full speech from today’s briefing

As the Roman Statesman Cicero said ‘the safety of the people shall be our highest law’. This is the approach we have taken since the pandemic was declared in March. Today, I can confirm that it is safe to move to Phase 2 of the plan to reopen our country from Monday. This has been made possible by the considerable sacrifices that you have made to restrict the spread of the virus and protect others.

Thanks to your perseverance in pushing back COVID-19 I am announcing an acceleration of the Roadmap.

Over the last few months fear has exerted a kind of gravity pulling us down, but now we find there is hope lifting us up again.

During this Emergency we have suffered as a country, lost loved ones, and changed the way that we work and live. We are making progress. We are heading in the right direction. And we have earned the right to be hopeful about the future again.

Based on the medical evidence and the recommendations of NPHET and Government reports on the economic and social impact of Covid-19, Cabinet today agreed to implement all elements of Phase 2 and move further along the roadmap, a kind of Phase 2+. We have also agreed to bring forward the actions in the remaining phases. So, there will now just be four phases rather than five. Phase 3 will start on the 29th of June, and Phase 4 on the 20th of July. Under the guidance of the CMO, we will work out in the days ahead which actions will take place in each. Some measures such as bans on mass gatherings may need to remain in place well into August as will public health advice around hygiene and physical distancing.

The Tánaiste and I informed the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on these decisions earlier this morning

I have always said that we would accelerate the reopening of our country, but only if it was safe to do so. Thanks to your actions we have now reached that point, and with your help we will keep moving forward. So we all need to stick to what we have been doing right – washing our hands regularly, keeping 2 metres apart wherever possible, observing coughing and sneezing etiquette, avoiding crowded places, wearing face coverings on public transport and self isolating when sick. As we ease restrictions and meet and interact more, this will become more important.

I know this has been a particularly difficult period for those who are over 70 and those who are medically vulnerable, and many have yearned to break free from their cocooning, a term itself that some have found insulting, instead of reassuring.

Now there is hope and there is cause for hope. From Monday it will be permissible for people in this category to welcome a small number of visitors to their homes, although we are asking that physical distancing is still observed. Shops will also provide dedicated hours for those who are over 70 or in an at risk group.

It is important that people continue to avoid unnecessary travel.

So our message today and for the next three weeks is to Stay Local.

We recognise the difficulty that the travel restrictions are having, especially for people in rural Ireland. From Monday people can travel within their own county, or up to 20 km from their homes, whichever is greater. It is planned to remove these domestic travel restrictions all together at the start of Phase 3, on the 29th of June.

In the meantime, they remain legally enforceable by the Gardaí. We want people to stay local and to stay in their own county so the virus is not introduced into counties that are Covid-free today.

From Monday, groups of up to 6 people will be able to meet with each other indoors or outdoors, once they keep at least 2m apart.

Groups of up to 15 people can meet for outdoor sporting activities.

Solitary workers can return to their workplaces as can people who maintain a physical distance from others in their workplace, on a phased based. Working from home should remain the norm for those who can.

Up to 25 people will be allowed to attend funerals of loved ones, pay their respects and grieve together.

Public libraries can open on Monday.

There will be a new Summer Education Programme for children with special educational needs and disadvantage, as it is now safe to do so. Minister McHugh will bring proposals in this regard to Government next week.

Outdoor facilities and amenities for children – including commercial ones – can re-open.

Playgrounds once supervised can reopen on Monday, and outdoor camps for children can also be run, once there are no more than 15 people mixing together.

Elite athletes may return to their training facilities.

Marts can re-open and greyhound racing resume without spectators.

We are also approving the reopening of all shops from Monday.

It is important that the return to retail does not create crowding on public transport or interfere with essential workers getting to work. Therefore, shops reopening – the ones not already open – will be required to operate staggered hours, opening no earlier than 10:30am and allocating dedicated time at the start for elderly, vulnerable and at-risk groups.

Shopping malls can re-open on June 15th provided only the shops open and measures are taken to ensure people do not congregate at benches, fountains or food courts for example.

Summer is not lost and this can be a summer of hope if we keep the virus at bay.

So, Cabinet decided today to plan a return of the tourism and hospitality sectors on June 29th as part of a revised phase 3.

We want to see the return of domestic tourism in our country, and the re-opening of hotels, restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries and museums from 29th of June. Making it possible for bars that also operate as restaurants to reopen. Make it possible for us to explore our country as if for the first time and rediscover the beauty that is all around us. We also want placed of worship to resume services again, with precautions.

As our country opens up and we start interacting more, personal responsibility becomes even more important than ever. We got into this fight against COVID-19 together, and we will only get out of it together.

We will be reinforcing this message in new public information campaigns over the coming days.

So, this afternoon let me end with words of hope, ‘In the end, it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer.’

Thanks to your hard-work, your choices, and your perseverance, that new day is approaching.

15:00 05/06/2020

Fexco cuts 150 jobs as Covid travel hit deepens


Denis McCarthy, CEO of Fexco

Donal O’Donovan

Fexco, one of the biggest employers in the south-west of the country, is laying off 150 staff.

The Irish-owned financial services company employs around 1,000 people at its main base in Killorglin, Co Kerry. Its main operations include foreign exchange services and it is also the biggest shareholder in Goodbody Stockbrokers, which it is in the process of selling.

The company plans to reduce its Irish employee numbers by at least 15pc through a voluntary redundancy scheme. In addition a previous three-month temporary pay reduction is being extended for a further three months and staff will be offered career breaks.

The layoffs were announced in an email to staff from CEO Denis McCarthy.

14:50 05/06/2020

Pandemic unemployment payment to be cut from June 29

Philip Ryan

The Government will start cutting the €350 per week Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) for part-time workers from June 29.

The move will see anyone who was earning up to €199.99 per week before the outbreak of the coronavirus receive €203 per week in line with rate of the Jobseeker benefit scheme. However, the €350 payment for those who were earning more than €200 per week will not be reduced until at least August 10 – at the start of phase five of the roadmap for reopening of the country.

The wage subsidy scheme, which is received by more than 571,400 employees, will also remain unchanged until the same date.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he expected to see a decline in those receiving the wage subsidy scheme as public health restrictions are eased in the coming weeks.

14:40 05/06/2020

London stocks gain, set for strong weekly gains on recovery hopes


Revolution also announced plans to delist from the London Stock Exchange’s main market (PA)

UK stocks rose on Friday and were set for their third straight week of gains as optimism around a post-coronavirus economic recovery drove investors back to riskier assets, while housebuilder Taylor Wimpey jumped on a rebound in bookings.

The firm added 3.2pc and was among the top gainers on the FTSE 100 after it also said it had seen fewer cancellations in Britain’s nine-week lockdown than in the same period last year.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 was up 0.9pc, with travel stocks surging on a report saying some European countries were keen to adopt “transport corridors”, which would let British holidaymakers visit Mediterranean resorts without quarantining for 14 days on their return.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 was up 1.4pc, with consumer discretionary, industrial and financial stocks among the biggest boosts.

Premier Oil surged 11.6pc after saying it would issue discounted shares to activist hedge fund ARCM representing 8.91pc of the company to pay for North Sea assets from BP.

14.35 05/06/2020

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a government press conference this afternoon on easing of restrictions:

  • “I can confirm it is safe to move to phase two starting on Monday.”
  • “I am also announcing an acceleration of the roadmap.”
  • “Based on medical evidence and recommendation from cabinet today agreed to implement all elements of Phase 2, we have also agreed to bring forward action in the remaining phases.

On cocooners-

  • Over 70s can welcome a small number of visitors to their homes- physical distancing still required
  • Shops to have dedicated hours for over 70s.

On shops and tourism sector-

  • People asked to stay local but from Monday people can stay within their own county or move 20km from their home
  • Shops reopening requiring staggered hours opening no earlier than 10am and with dedicated hours for over 70s.
  • Shopping centres to reopen with only shops to open and no congregation allowed.
  • Return of tourism and hospitality sectors in phase three on June 29.
  • Restaurants, hotels museums to reopen in phase 3
  • Bars as long as they are serving food.
  • Places of worship in phase three “with precautions”

14:30 05/06/2020

Health service tackles Covid-19 outbreaks in Direct Provision and meat plants

The health service is continuing to grapple with Covid-19 outbreaks in congregated settings including Direct Provision centres, nursing homes and meat plants, officials have said.

It comes as the head of the HSE warned that people are four times more likely to contract the disease when in close contact with a confirmed case.

Chief executive Paul Reid urged the public to strengthen “our personal vigilance” as the restrictions are eased over the coming months.

Mr Reid told the HSE weekly briefing at Dublin City University that while the number of coronavirus cases is declining, health officials are still working to manage outbreaks in Direct Provision centres, nursing homes and meat plants.

He said that at the end of last month there were 21 Covid-19 outbreaks compared to 49 the previous week – a decrease of 57pc.

Dr Mai Mannix, director of public health, said there are now 1,054 confirmed cases in 20 meat plants across Ireland.

14:20 05/06/2020

The dangers of bar-hopping and workplaces – what we’ve learned from other countries

Eilish O’Regan


Many publicans feel social-distancing measures will make their businesses impossible to keep going. Stock Image

It might seem like many Europeans are already enjoying post-lockdown la dolce vita, sipping coffee at pavement cafés, while our cautious exit leaves us modestly excited about buying a new pair of net curtains next week.

But individual nations are at different stages in the spread of the disease.

With phase two of the reopening roadmap on the horizon, what can we learn from the successes and pitfalls of those other countries’ venture into the unknown?

Full story here:

14:10 05/06/2020

Crown Prosecution Service asked to review evidence over Covid-19 death of railway worker


Ms Mujinga was a mother to 11-year-old daughter Ingrid (Family handout/PA)

The Crown Prosecution Service has been asked to review evidence into the death of railway worker Belly Mujinga in recognition of wider public interest, although the case is not being reopened, British Transport Police said.

Belly Mujinga, who had an 11-year-old daughter, was on the concourse of Victoria station in London on March 22 when a member of the public who said he had Covid-19 spat and coughed at her and a colleague.

Both women fell ill with the virus within days of the attack, and Ms Mujinga died in hospital in Barnet on April 5.

British Transport Police (BTP) interviewed a 57-year-old man but said the incident did not lead to the worker’s death and decided not to refer the case to the CPS.

In a new statement on Friday, BTP said it had invited the CPS to conduct an independent review of the available evidence, and whether there were any further lines of inquiry.

14:00 05/06/2020

‘He is a miracle’: Father finally home after 32 days on ventilator battling coronavirus


‘Doing fantastic’: Dónal Lawlor arriving home in Irishtown, Co Westmeath, after his Covid-19 ordeal, with wife Aileen and sons Colm and Éamonn

Fiona Dillon

Dónal Lawlor has finally returned home after a battle with Covid-19 that saw him spend 32 days on a ventilator.

Neighbours and friends came out in force to clap Mr Lawlor (65) as he made his way to his house in Irishtown, Mullingar, last Friday after his amazing recovery.

His wife Aileen said he went into nearby Mullingar General Hospital on March 19, coming home on May 29 – and he is “doing fantastic”.

“He is a miracle. The amount of people who were willing him on,” said Ms Lawlor, a former president of the Camogie Association.

Full story here:

13:50 05/06/2020

Minister Donohoe announces extension of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme until end of August

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has announced the extension of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme until the end of August.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) was introduced on March 26, subsidising a portion of the employer wage bill in circumstances where the employer’s business has been negatively impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

So far, over 58,300 employers have registered for the TWSS and over €1.37 billion has been paid out, supporting over 514,700 employees who have received at least one payment.

As set out in the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, public health restrictions will likely remain in place for a significant numbers of businesses and employers until Phase 5, which has an indicative start date of 10th August.

Because of this, the Government has agreed that, as matters stand at present, the TWSS will remain in place until the end of August.

13:40 05/06/2020

Thousands of parents in dark over plans for GAA camps


Clarity: Alan Milton of the GAA. Photo: Brendan Moran/ Sportsfile

Melanie Finn

Thousands of parents have been left in the dark as uncertainty continues to surround this summer’s Kellogg’s Cúl Camps due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

As recently as last week, the GAA website was continuing to take bookings for the week-long sports camps.

The GAA says it is “hopeful” they will still go ahead in some kind of format.

The popular events which cater to children aged between six and 13 had more than 36,000 registrations in Leinster alone last year.

At the time of booking last week, parents were advised that all Government guidelines would be followed, and if the camps could not go ahead, full refunds would be issued.

13:30 05/06/2020

Covid-19 toll on German economy revealed in factory orders figures

Factory orders in Germany plunged even more than anticipated in April, underlining the effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had on Europe’s largest economy.

The Economy Ministry said on Friday that industrial orders dropped 25.8pc in April over the previous month, in figures adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects.

Economists had been predicting a 19.9pc drop for April, which is thought to have been the worst month of the economic deterioration ascribed to the pandemic and lockdown measures meant to slow its spread.

The decline followed a 15pc drop already in March, and suggests lean times ahead for German industry.

Germany is already in a recession and the government’s economic advisers are predicting a contraction of between 6pc and 7pc in 2020.

13:20 05/06/2020

Directors face ‘reckless trading’ rap if accounts skirt Covid impact

Donal O’Donovan

Company directors face potentially dire consequences if they fail to robustly set out the risks Covid-19 poses to their business, according to auditors at Deloitte.

Regulators have allowed flexibility for when accounts for 2019 must be submitted to the Companies Office.

But the content, including the “going concern” section that must assess a company’s prospects of survival, needs to be fully explained, according to Glenn Gillard, partner in audit and assurance at Deloitte.

“Directors can’t just say the outlook is very uncertain because of Covid-19, they have to make a robust assessment or run the risk of being found to have been recklessly trading the business,” he said.

13:10 05/06/2020

Ryanair calls for Taoiseach to scrap ‘ineffective’ visitor quarantine as EU urges states to open up borders

Ryanair today called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to scrap Ireland’s ‘ineffective’ visitor quarantine from the end of June, on the same day when the European Commission is calling on EU members to lift all EU border restrictions by the end of June.

in a statement Ryanair said: “For a visitor quarantine to be effective, inbound passengers at ports and airports need to be “detained” at their point of arrival. The Irish Government cannot and will not stop visitors from mixing on public transport or in supermarkets, by which time they could have spread the Covid virus all over the Irish bus or taxi network even before they arrive at their destination address. Ireland’s visitor quarantine is also defective as it completely excludes visitors from the UK which currently has the highest Covid infection rate in Europe.”

EC Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, today called on the EU members to reopen borders “as soon as possible” in a coordinated way. The Commissioner also pointed to a recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) which advises against border restrictions which damage Europe’s economies.

Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Greece have all removed travel restrictions on visitors from the end of June. Ryanair asks the Taoiseach why he is delaying the restart of Irish tourism and enforcing useless quarantine measures despite Ireland having one of the best EU records in combating and defeating Covid-19.

13:00 05/06/2020

Global vaccine summit raises over eight billion dollars in research funds

Boris Johnson and Bill Gates speak at the Gavi vaccine alliance summit which has raised over eight billion dollars to help fund research into finding a Covid-19 vaccine.

Mr Johnson said that together, the leaders would fulfil “the greatest shared endeavour of our lifetime, the triumph of humanity over disease”.

12:50 05/06/2020

Travel in your own county permitted from Monday

Philip Ryan

People will be able to travel anywhere within their own county from Monday under a major acceleration of the government’s plan to reopen the country.

It had been expected that the non essential travel ban would be increased from 5km to 20km

However, it has been decided to allow people travel 20km or anywhere on their own county from next week:

The government is also considering combing the forthcoming phases of the reopening map. The final three phases may be combined into two.

This could see hotels permitted to reopen in phase three at the end of the month.

Pubs with restaurant licences will also be able to reopen by the end of the month if the spread of the virus is contained.

The National Public Health Emergency Team will consider how to combine the phases.

12:40 05/06/2020

€176m EU Covid-19 funds boost for peatland employees


Turf laid out to dry in Co Clare. Photo: Getty

Caroline O’Doherty

Ireland is in line for a major increase in European funding to help communities hit by ending peat production.

Funding of €30m pledged in January has been multiplied almost six-fold as part of a dramatic boost in the total pot for regions in need of support for ‘just transition’ across the EU.

The Department of Climate Action confirmed the rise. “The Irish Government expects to secure funding of €176m under proposals for an increased EU Just Transition Fund,” it said.

Most of the other regions receiving assistance are dependent on coal or lignite production which are similarly being phased out in the move away from fossil fuels required by climate action policy.

Dr Robert Pollock, EU advisor on just transition, said the decision to boost funding was part of the overall post-Covid recovery plan.

12:30 05/06/2020

British Airways considering legal challenge to quarantine

British Airways’ parent company is considering taking legal action against the Government’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh described the policy as “terrible” and warned it has “torpedoed our opportunity to get flying in July”.

He told Sky News: “We think it’s irrational, we think it’s disproportionate, and we are giving consideration to a legal challenge to this legislation.

“We’re reviewing that with the lawyers later on today.

“I suspect there are other airlines who are doing so because it’s important to point out there was no consultation with the industry prior to enacting this legislation.

“We do believe it is an irrational piece of legislation.”

12:20 05/06/2020

‘Invaluable’ Covid antibody test launched by Kilkenny firm


Covid-19 testing will be crucial

Ellie Donnelly

Kilkenny-based life sciences company MyBio has signed an exclusive agreement with German manufacturer MöLab for the Irish distribution of its Covid-19 antibody diagnostic test kit.

According to MyBio, it is the most accurate antibody test of its kind available across Ireland.

The kit provides nearly perfect specificity in terms of measuring how likely a person is to having the antibodies to Sars-CoV-2 in their system. It retails at €196 for a box of 10 and provides results within 10 minutes.

The company believes the test can play a crucial role as the lockdown eases and more people return to work.

12:10 05/06/2020

Weekly coronavirus death toll in Northern Ireland falls again


A staff member at a pharmacy in Holywood, Co. Down, is pictured wearing a protective visor and face mask. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

The weekly coronavirus death toll continues to fall in Northern Ireland, latest figures have indicated.

Statistics published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) show there were 36 deaths involved Covid-19 in the week to May 29.

That was 11 fewer than the week before, continuing a downward trend for five weeks.

The Nisra figures give a fuller picture of Covid-19 deaths than the daily figures released by the Department of Health, which focus primarily on hospital deaths.

Nisra obtains its statistics using death certificates in which Covid-19 is mentioned as a cause, regardless of where the fatality occurred.

They show that the death toll up to May 29 was 757.

12:00 05/06/2020

Tenants struggle to get deposits back from agency a month after vacating properties

Amy Molloy

Tenants who rented properties from a Dublin letting agent are struggling to get back deposits of up to €2,700 more than a month after vacating their apartments.

As housing charities report a huge spike in calls and the Residential Tenancies Board revealed it has seen a 40pc increase in traffic to its website during the Covid-19 crisis, tenants have spoken out about their difficulties getting deposits returned.

Concerns have also been raised about landlords not carrying out inspections in the presence of tenants due to lockdown restrictions.

Full story here:

11:50 05/06/2020

Michael D Higgins highlights vital contribution of nurses to society during DCU Virtual Graduation

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to the vital contribution that nurses make to society and the central role that they have played in the health service in Ireland in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a video address for the 217 graduates of DCU’s School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, taking place tomorrow as part of the university’s virtual graduation ceremony, President Higgins described it as one that has “greatly inspired and uplifted the nation.”

“Recent months have brought into sharp focus the vital contribution that the nursing profession makes to our society. As a nation facing, together, the challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have been so greatly inspired and uplifted by the remarkable courage, compassion and generosity of those who work in our health services,” he said.

“Central to that service is, of course, the nurses who deliver such safe and effective care in our hospitals, health centres, clinics, hospices and, of course, out in our wider communities.”

Paying tribute to the DCU nursing class of 2020, many of whom are now working on the front-line in the fight against Covid-19, President Higgins singled out the importance of care and compassion in the nursing profession.

11:40 05/06/2020

Coronavirus deaths surge in Brazil, Mexico as regional leaders look to reopen


Mariachi musicians wear masks to guard against coronavirus as they play at an empty Garibaldi square in Mexico City (Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

The number of coronavirus deaths in Brazil blew past Italy’s toll on Thursday, while Mexico reported a record number of new cases, as regional leaders in Latin America push to end quarantine measures and kick their economies back into gear.

Latin America as a whole has become a new focus of the coronavirus pandemic, with health officials urging governments there not to open their economies too fast and to avoid public crowds.

Brazil posted a record number of daily deaths for third consecutive day on Thursday, with 1,437 deaths over the last 24 hours and 30,925 additional coronavirus cases, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

Total deaths in South America’s largest nation now stand at 34,021, trailing only the United States and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Mexico reported 816 deaths on Thursday, the second consecutive daily record there, while total deaths surpassed 12,000.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the pandemic, criticizing social distancing measures and urging regional government to lift restrictions for the sake of the economy.

11:30 05/06/2020

Covid-19 Costs DAA €160m in lost turnover


DAA boss Dalton Philips. Photo: Julien Behal

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has cost DAA (previously Dublin Airport Authority) an estimated €160m in lost turnover so far and will see the company record significant financial losses this year.

DAA has operations in 16 countries and the global pandemic has affected all of its businesses. Traffic at Dublin and Cork airports has collapsed, as passenger numbers have fallen by 99pc in April and May. While the two airports had enjoyed a positive start to the year in terms of traffic growth, the sharp fall in travel in recent months means that overall 2020 passenger numbers have already declined by 55pc and will fall further.

DAA’s overseas businesses have also felt the brunt of the collapse in international aviation, as all but one of its ARI travel retail operations have been shuttered. Domestic flights in Saudi Arabia, where DAA international operates a terminal at King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh, were totally suspended in March and only began to resume on a phased basis earlier this week.

With almost no passengers and no shoppers in its airport retail outlets, DAA is currently losing €1m a day, according to the company’s Chief Executive Dalton Philips. A very significant cost reduction programme is currently underway to address the issue. Costs have been cut across the business, staff have been placed on a four-day week, and a right-sizing programme is in progress.

11:20 05/06/2020

Covid payment extension and easing of funeral restrictions but public to be urged to ‘stay local’


The pandemic has meant we are unable to mourn in the manner we used to

Philip Ryan, Eilish O’Regan and Allison Bray

People will be urged to “stay local” rather than at home under the next phase of the roadmap for reopening the country.

The Government is set to gamble on a major reopening of the retail sector in an attempt to kick-start the economy after months of Covid-19 lockdown.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) gave the green light to allow all major retail outlets with on-street entrances to operate again on Monday. Under phase two of the plan, only small retail outlets were due to be back in business.

Full story here:

11:10 05/06/2020

Ross warns public transport will not be able to cope with increase in passengers in phase two

Philip Ryan

Transport Minister Shane Ross has warned Cabinet ministers that bus and train services may not be able to cope with the increase in passengers returning to work in the second phase of the Government’s plan to reopen the country.

In a stark warning, the transport minister told colleagues the two metre social distancing rule means public transport operators will only be able to carry 20pc of passengers compared to normal levels of capacity.

Mr Ross said restricting this to one metre would still only allow for 40pc of normal passenger travel on some routes.

The minister was also forced to seek a massive €460m bailout for rail and bus operators who have seen their incomes slashed during the pandemic.

11:00 05/06/2020

Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

More than 6.63 million people have been reported infected with the new coronavirus globally and 390,080 have died as of around 5am today.

The US government is working with drugmakers to maximize availability of influenza vaccines, worried that a substantial flu season on top of another wave of the novel coronavirus could swamp the healthcare system this fall, a top US health official said.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca has doubled manufacturing capacity for its potential coronavirus vaccine to 2 billion doses in a handful of deals involving Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

The European Union is preparing to use an emergency 2.4-billion-euro fund for advance purchases of promising vaccines against Covid-19, EU officials told Reuters.

The French government will mobilise 40 billion euros to support its hardest-hit industries, finance ministry officials said.

Scientists are resuming COVID-19 trials of hydroxychloroquine, as confusion continues to reign about the anti-malarial drug hailed by U.S. President Donald Trump as a potential “game-changer” against the pandemic.

10:50 05/06/2020

Mass gatherings over death of George Floyd unlawful, Met Police say


A Black Lives Matter protest takes place in Trafalgar Square in London (Matt Crossick/PA)

Future UK mass protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in the US would be “unlawful” due to the current coronavirus restrictions, a senior Metropolitan Police officer has warned.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The health protection regulations are really clear that it is unlawful.

“The Government said that for health reasons people should not be meeting in groups of six, so we would strongly encourage people not to come out and gather in these large numbers because they are putting themselves and others at risk.

“And if they do come out, then we would ask them to observe that social distancing, think about those around them.”

10:40 05/06/2020

Ocean shipping shrinks as pandemic pummels retailers

The $1 trillion container shipping industry is in a slowdown. Literally.

Some shipping lines, whose retail customers are being hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, are reducing sailing speeds and taking longer routes around Africa, avoiding Suez canal passage fees, according to the companies and ship-tracking specialists.

Many are also cutting down the number of voyages and providing short-term storage for clients as the industry, which includes heavyweights like Maersk, MSC and Hapag-Lloyd, faces its biggest downturn since the 2008 financial crisis.

The new tactics not only save on costs, but also help adapt to the needs of cash-crunched retailers – among their biggest customers – who are stuck with huge inventory surpluses thanks to Covid-19 store closures and a collapse in consumer demand.

Slower shipping times also means importers can delay payments made on delivery.

From sportswear maker Puma to mall stalwart Gap , many retailers have been forced to reduce or slow down shipments of new merchandise. Civil unrest in the United States has compounded their problems by further clouding the prospect for a recovery in the world’s biggest retail sales market.

10:20 05/06/2020

ECB boosts bond buying to contain Covid fallout

The European Central Bank intensified its response to the coronavirus recession with a bigger-than-anticipated increase to its emergency bond-buying programme.

At a virtual meeting yesterday, President Christine Lagarde and colleagues decided to expand the amount of purchases by €600bn and extended their duration until at least the end of June 2021.

The vast majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg last week expected policy makers to boost buying by €500bn.

Italian bonds rallied and the euro reversed losses after the decision, which reflects how Europe is finally coming together with vast spending plans to drag the economy out of its worst recession in living memory.

Germany announced a new €130bn fiscal package late on Wednesday, the latest in a raft of national programmes, and the European Union has proposed a €750bn joint recovery fund that leaders will discuss later this month.

10:10 05/06/2020

Russia’s coronavirus infections near 450,000

Russia reported 8,726 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, pushing the total number of infections to 449,834.

Officials said 144 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official nationwide death toll to 5,528.

10:00 05/06/2020

After Pakistan’s lockdown gamble, COVID-19 cases surge


Millions of Pakistani flood victims are celebrating Islam’s important festival of Eid ul-Fitr. (AP)

Four weeks ago, with its most important festival, Eid al-Fitr, coming up and millions of people facing starvation as economic activity dwindled, Pakistan lifted a two-month-long coronavirus lockdown.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said despite rising infections and deaths, the country would need to learn to “live with” the virus to avert pushing tens of millions living on daily wages into destitution.

Now, a Reuters review of government data shows over 20,000 cases of the virus were identified in the three weeks before the lockdown was lifted, and more than double that figure were identified in the three weeks since.

To be sure, testing rates have also increased. But of those tested, the daily average of positive results climbed from on average 11.5pc in the three weeks before the lockdown was lifted, to 15.4pc on average in the subsequent three weeks. The ratio is around 23pc this week, according to the data.

Pakistan has officially identified over 80,000 cases of COVID-19, with 1,770 confirmed deaths.

09:40 05/06/2020

Premier League kicks for touch on what to do in case campaign remains unfinished

Premier League clubs have headed off a row over what happens if the 2019-20 season is curtailed by agreeing to wait to see whether the Championship finishes its campaign.

Premier League clubs last month threatened to oppose promotion from the Championship if the second tier could not complete the season and this was formally raised during a shareholders’ meeting yesterday.

The move would be strongly opposed by the English Football League and the Football Association, who have insisted that relegation and promotion is fundamental to their agreement.

Deciding the mechanism for so-called curtailment was one of the outstanding issues discussed at the meeting of the 20 Premier League clubs, with the expectation that it would be voted on next week.

However, it was decided that curtailment, and what happens, should be dealt with only if it actually takes place.

It means the season will resume on June 17 without any agreement on how final places would be decided should it be abandoned, which runs contrary to the return-to-competition guidelines suggested by the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

09:30 05/06/2020

English Premiership targets August return to finish season


The Gallagher Premiership will return in August

Premiership Rugby is planning to resume its 2019-20 campaign following the COVID-19 disruption on Aug. 15, the English top-flight competition’s chief executive Darren Childs said on Friday.

The British government last week gave permission for elite sport to return without fans in attendance from June 1 and the Premiership, which has nine rounds remaining, is hoping to complete its season.

The targeted restart date was agreed at a board meeting on Thursday night.

Premiership Rugby said the structure of the 2019-20 season would follow in due course.

Exeter Chiefs were top of the standings with 45 points when the season was suspended in April.

09:20 05/06/2020

Turn down any invitations to house parties, warns Holohan


Dr Holohan said people must turn down invitations to house parties

Eilish O’Regan

People are having house parties “with abandon” but anyone invited to one should stay away, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned.

The parties are part of “unseen” breaches of public health advice causing concern and are being held as “though we are not in the midst of a pandemic”.

It was still too early to have these kind of activities and they were against the current public health guidelines to halt the spread of Covid-19, he added.

Earlier this week, in response to questions on intimacy advice in the Netherlands, he agreed it was wise to stick to one partner to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

He said yesterday it might seem to people that public health officials were policing “pleasurable” aspects of life and advising against them in areas such as house parties or intimacy.

However, he insisted it came back to personal responsibility and people could choose not to organise or attend these kind of gatherings that increased the risk of the virus being passed on.

09:00 05/06/2020

Indigestion tablets may ease Covid-19 symptoms – study


New hope: Pepcid AC indigestion medicine may help treat Covid-19

Eilish O’Regan

A widely available indigestion medicine – which can be bought in pharmacies for just €8 – may curb Covid-19 symptoms in mild to moderate cases of the disease, a new study suggests.

Famotidine, sold as Pepcid AC, is a popular indigestion relief to reduce the production of stomach acid.

Famotidine can be taken in doses of 20-160mg, up to four times a day, for the treatment of acid reflux and heartburn.

The benefits of the drug for Covid-19 patients who were able to recover at home were felt within 24-48 hours, according to the findings of a small case series, in the journal ‘Gut’.

The majority of the more than 25,100 people infected with the virus in Ireland have not needed hospital treatment.

Researchers said a rigorous clinical trial was now warranted to see if the drug could be an effective Covid-19 treatment.

08:50 05/06/2020

Scottish Exercise simulating outbreak in 2018 noted ‘clear gap’ in preparedness

An exercise simulating an outbreak of coronavirus in Scotland noted a “clear gap” in the country’s preparedness, according to a report.

The exercise held in March 2018 simulated an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV) to assess NHS Scotland’s readiness to respond to a suspected outbreak.

The Scottish Government said it published the report this week “given understandable interest in activity around preparedness or planning for infectious disease outbreaks”.

Mers, first identified in the Middle East in 2012, is a rare but severe respiratory illness which can start with a fever and cough and can develop into pneumonia and breathing difficulties.

The report said it was recognised the availability and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) would be a “key consideration in the early stages of the outbreak”.

08:40 05/06/2020

Safety first as counties plan for a season in new normal


Back in action: Groundsman Austin Kinsella attends to the pitch at Fenagh GAA Club, Co Carlow yesterday in preparation for a return to football and hurling. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

As county boards anxiously await the unveiling of the GAA’s ‘return to play’ roadmap, there is a growing sense of optimism and a pressing requirement for fixture planning.

Kildare’s draft fixture plan includes a proposal to start running league fixtures from the first week of August.

They are not alone in planning for a future that appears increasingly likely to embrace football and hurling games earlier than most of us had anticipated.

But uncertainty still abounds on several levels, with the practical issues, soon to be clarified by Croke Park.

Will pitches be allowed to reopen on June 29? When, in a world of social distancing, can collective, full-contact training resume? Might clubs be given the green light to actually play matches in early August?

But there are other uncertainties, prompted by ingrained fears of a virus that may have been suppressed but still hasn’t gone away.

08:20 05/06/2020

Airlines’ woes are lessors’ woes as the Covid-19 pandemic hammers world’s aviation industry


Strategy: NAC’s chief commercial officer, Jim Murphy. The lessor’s fleet includes turboprop and jet aircraft

John Mulligan

The seismic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has rocked the foundations of the aviation industry.

The way we travel has been changed, perhaps not forever, but at least for the foreseeable future.

Recovery will come, and to think that the demand for airline travel will in some way be diminished significantly, or at all, over the long-term is to ignore its role as the only transport method capable of moving people and goods over long distances quickly and efficiently.

In the short to medium term, things will certainly be different. Demand will take time to recover. The pandemic also leaves behind a more condensed industry as some airlines succumb fully to the fallout, and fail.

Already carriers including Virgin Australia, Colombia’s Avianca and Chile’s Latam have filed for bankruptcy or entered administration, while others including Lufthansa and Air France-KLM are being kept on life support by government bailouts. And every airline has slashed staff, pay and other costs to cope with the devastating hit that the pandemic has inflicted on the airline industry.

08:00 05/06/2020

Care home residents’ wellbeing suffering ‘due to lack of social contact’


A nurse speaks to a resident at the Wren Hall care home in Nottingham
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Around eight in 10 care home managers have seen residents’ health and wellbeing deteriorate due to a lack of social contact during lockdown, a survey suggests.

People with dementia are feeling confused and abandoned by the lack of visits from loved ones, losing the ability to speak and “disappearing”, the Alzheimer’s Society said.

Care home staff told the charity people at the end of their lives are “declining at a faster rate than normal”, while others are losing weight because they are not eating or drinking like they used to.

Of 128 care homes, 126 of which care for people with dementia, 79% said residents’ health and wellbeing had suffered when surveyed between April 30 and May 21.

Fears about care homes is the biggest concern from relatives calling the charity’s Dementia Connect support line, who are helplessly watching as their loved ones lose their skills and memories “at a terrifying rate”.

07:40 05/06/2020

Government set to approve move to phase two of lockdown exit

The Irish Government is set to approve the next phase of the country’s road map out of coronavirus lockdown later on Friday.

The cabinet is meeting this morning to formally consider advice from experts on the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on whether phase two can begin on Monday as scheduled.

Ministers also met in Dublin on Thursday night to discuss lockdown relaxations and, afterwards, Health Minister Simon Harris said all the indicators looked “very good” for a move out of phase one.

Mr Harris said along with the steps outlined for phase two in the road map document, he also anticipated some further relaxations in regard to children and older people.

In the original road map, phase two would see some workplaces and small retail outlets reopen; the distance restriction on exercise extended from 5km to 20km; and people allowed to visit the homes of those cocooning, as long as PPE and social distancing are used.

Up to four people would also be allowed visit other households, while sports teams could resume non-contact training in small groups.

07:20 05/06/2020

High blood pressure can double risk of Covid-19 death, study says


Chronic deisease such as high blood pressure will become more common Photo: Getty Images

Eilis O’Regan

Patients with raised blood pressure have a two-fold increased risk of dying from COVID-19, new research reveals today.

The researchers, who included a team from NUI Galway, found that patients with high blood pressure who were not taking medication to control the condition were at even greater risk of dying from the virus.

The findings are published today in the European Heart Journal.

The expert team at NUI Galway collaborated with a team in China.

However, the researchers said this result “should be interpreted cautiously”, adding that “patients should not discontinue or change their normal, antihypertensive treatment”.

Professor Fei Li, from Xijing Hospital in China and one of the study authors, said: “It is important that patients with high blood pressure realise that they are at increased risk of dying from Covid-19.”

07:00 05/06/2020

Human rights watchdog to probe racial inequalities exposed by Covid-19


People take a knee during a Black Lives Matter rally in Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA)

The official human rights watchdog is to mount a statutory inquiry into the racial inequalities exposed by the coronavirus crisis in the UK.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it was a “once in a generation” opportunity to tackle deep-seated inequalities and create a fairer country.

The move comes amid a wave of protests across the UK highlighting the anger felt over the treatment of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people.

The demonstrations were provoked by the unrest in the US in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, but the message from protesters has widened to discrimination more generally.

Earlier this week, a report by Public Health England (PHE) found that – after accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region – people of Bangladeshi ethnicity have around twice the risk of death from Covid-19 than people who are white British.

Online Editors

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