Coronavirus: China to send up to 60 planeloads of personal protective equipment for Irish health staff

Planeloads of personal protective equipment are being sent from China to the Republic. Picture by Hugh Russell
Rebecca Black, Press Association

The Republic is expecting 50-60 planeloads of personal protective equipment from China for healthcare staff battling the coronavirus.

Dr Colm Henry, Health Service Executive chief clinical officer, said they had been facing challenges securing personal protective equipment (PPE) in a "very competitive global market".

But he said thanks to a deal struck last week they are expecting millions of pieces of equipment to start arriving from China.

"We're talking about millions of respiratory masks, facial masks, long-sleeved gowns, goggles, all that equipment we need will be coming in, in millions, in 50-60 airplane loads, beginning we hope this coming Sunday from China," he said.

READ MORE: Down and Connor diocese ends funerals inside churches due to coronavirus

A further 235 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Republic last night.

Two more patients who tested positive for Covid-19 have died, bringing the state's total to nine deaths.

In total 1,564 people have been confirmed as having coronavirus in the Republic, yesterday's daily briefing heard.

A doctor takes a swab from a woman to test for the Covid-19 virus in China

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said that the two patients who died were a man and a woman from the east of the country. The woman had an underlying health condition.

Asked about testing, Dr Holohan said only 6% of tests carried out so far have returned positive results.

"Ultimately, we want our 6% detected rate to increase, we want to find as many people as possible with Covid-19, isolate them and contain the spread," he said.

He said the lower number of contacts for each positive case indicates that the population is responding well to social distancing measures.

"We were predicting we might have somewhere in the region of 350 or so cases by the end of last week, we haven't seen that but I think it would be too early for us to conclude that this is a result of our social distancing measure," he said.

"If I was to look for an encouraging sign in that direction I would be pointing more towards the reduction in the number of contacts that we have seen for each of the individual cases.

"That has reduced significantly over the period that the social distancing measures have been in place and that tells us that the population is responding well to the measures that we have in place."

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said Ireland is in the top quartile globally for the number of Covid-19 tests done for the size of its population.

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