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Three residents of Laois nursing home with coronavirus outbreak have died

Thousands of elderly are among the 'at-risk' groups for Covid-19
James Ward and Cate McCurry, Press Association

Three residents at a nursing home in Co Laois which has been battling an outbreak of Covid-19 have died.

A fourth resident diagnosed with Covid-19 has been taken to hospital.

A spokeswoman for Kilminchy Lodge Nursing Home in Portlaoise confirmed the deaths.

Two of the deaths were within the nursing home and one person died at Portlaoise General Hospital.

It was reported last week that 31 residents and staff tested positive for the virus.

The care home has been closed to non-essential visitors because of coronavirus restrictions.

A spokeswoman for the care home said: "The management, staff and community within Kilminchy Lodge Nursing Home express our sincere sympathy and condolences to the families and relatives of our deceased residents.

"The best practices that were identified from the onset of the pandemic have continued in line with Public Health and WHO recommendations.

"The nursing home continues to work closely with Public Health, the HSE and HIQA.

"There has been no change in the number of residents who have tested positive at Kilminchy Lodge Nursing Home.

"A second round of testing was done on October 8, the results were returned on October 10, no new additional positive cases were found and one resident is currently under the care of Portlaoise General Hospital.

"Our family liaison officer is available to all families and is providing support where required.

"We want to sincerely thank our hard-working staff who have given their selfless and tireless dedication to the care of our residents at this time.

"We also want to acknowledge the medical support given by Portlaoise General Hospital.

"The management and staff at Kilminchy Lodge are also grateful for the support of the families and friends of all our residents during these difficult times."

Meanwhile, a garda assistant commissioner warned that gardaí will enforce the law in response to violent clashes arising from coronavirus protests.

It follows two arrests on Saturday October 10 when violence broke out between opposing sets of protesters during anti-mask demonstrations outside Leinster House.

Assistant Commissioner for Policing and Community Paula Hilman said that while there is a balance to be struck between the right to protest and public health, those committing offences will be investigated.

Asked about the protest, she said: "Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have applied a proportionate response to that.

"In doing so, we firstly engage with people, we explain, we encourage and then the fourth tier is to enforce.

"Now, we have a role as a police service to then enforce the law and we will police the protests and at the outset engage with the organisers. But where potential offences have been committed, then we will look at investigating those offences."

She said there is no "easy solution" to the anti-mask protests, which have seen hundreds of people participating in large gatherings in Dublin and across the country.

"There is a right to peaceful and lawful protest but that also in today's environment has to be balanced with health, with what we're dealing with in a pandemic. So it is a balance," she said.

"There's not an easy solution. But we will play our part in both engaging with organisers and having any proportionate policing response to what is required and the situation that we face."

Ms Hilman was speaking today at the Mansion House in Dublin, where gardaí and the local authorities issued an open letter to citizens of the capital to adhere to public health guidelines.

She added: "I would encourage everyone to work together. What today is about is everyone playing their part in keeping our society safe, to comply with what we need to do, to stop the spread of the pandemic.

"That's by maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, limiting contacts."

The open letter called on Dubliners to take responsibility for their actions and work together to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

It was signed by Dublin lord mayor Hazel Chu, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Cathaoirleach councillor Una Power, Fingal mayor David Healy and South Dublin mayor Ed O'Brien, as well as Dr Deirdre Mulholland of the HSE, and Ms Hilman.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Chu said that there is a "tiredness" setting in with regards to the pandemic restrictions, but urged people to keep up the fight and protect each other.

She said: "I think there's a tiredness that's setting in. I've heard words like complacency, lethargy, but I think exhaustion is really the right thing to note it as. Because that's what people are, people are tired.

"The thing is, the CMO (Dr Tony Holohan) is reiterating it not because he thinks people aren't adhering to it. It's because he knows that if he keeps saying it, people will continue to fight. That's what we need to do."

She added: "Those numbers that we see every day. Those are real live numbers with lives that are lost. We need to see those as people that we can protect.

"This is something that we can all do, which is bound together and make sure that we continue to adhere to restrictions."

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