Coronavirus deaths in Republic's nursing homes is at the 'upper end' of the scale worldwide
The percentage of coronavirus deaths in the Republic of Ireland's nursing homes is at the “upper end” of the scale compared to other countries.
The WHO special envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro, told an Oireachtas committee while some countries are similar, the international average is 25% compared to 50% for the Republic.
Dr Nabarro said: “Ireland is at 25% and if we break it down country by country, Sweden is at 49% and Scotland is 46%, Switzerland is 53%. So Ireland is certainly at the upper end of the scale.
“This is quite high but not unexpected.”
Dr David Nabarro told the Oireachtas committee it is proving a “huge challenge” worldwide to protect people in residential settings and nursing homes from Covid-19.
“Often the conditions people are being cared for are difficult to maintain when it comes to physical distancing and other requirements. They have to be up close and very personal. It is difficult for staff who have to work in homes.”
Dr Nabarro said it had to be recognised that staff working in residential homes “are often not the best paid”.
He said those responsible for both the public and private sector provisions were looking at a package of measures for residents and staff, including testing and the physical conditions inside the home.
Dr David Nabarro said countries record their death tolls differently across residential settings, which may explain why the Republic's percentage is higher.
“I think there is a very honest counting of numbers of coronavirus cases.”
“Ireland moved quickly on a number of issues like trying to get PPE to staff in nursing homes and restricting visits to nursing homes and recognising visitors were a primary way of bringing in the virus.
“I think Ireland was possibly the fastest country to have done this. At the moment, there is not something that Ireland has not done.”
In Northern Ireland deaths in care homes account for 43 per cent of of all Covid-19 related deaths.
The Irish News today revealed a leaked letter from the health service's top civil servant told trust bosses at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in care homes that 'positive' cases from hospitals should still be admitted - as long as they could be isolated.
The correspondence, issued by Richard Pengelly, also stresses that a new testing regime designed to prevent the spread of the disease by swabbing patients 48 hours before they leave hospital and go into homes "must not hold up a timely discharge".