The IHCA has welcomed the decision by Government to introduce further restrictions to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Measures such as requiring all businesses other than those listed as essential services to close and further restrictions on public gatherings “will be hugely important to tackling this virus”.
“From the perspective of the delivery of health services, healthcare workers and frontline services, in particular, it is very positive to see that priority testing is in place for healthcare workers,” according to the Association.
In its statement, it added: “Our health services will be hugely stretched over the coming days and weeks so ensuring that we have the maximum number of staff available to treat patients is essential. The quicker we can test and confirm the health status of frontline staff, the faster they can either self- isolate or return to work, if they test negative.”
With almost one-in-four of all new cases of Covid-19 now being healthcare workers, the IHCA described as “vital” that those with the virus are tested and isolated as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of onward transmission to patients and their healthcare colleagues.
Hospital consultants have also urged the public to continue to adhere to the public health measures over the coming weeks.
According to IHCA President Dr Donal O’Hanlon: “Our message to the public is clear. Please continue physical distancing, good hand hygiene and stay home as much as possible and if you have some or all the symptoms of Covid-19 self-isolate and contact the HSE helpline.
“Following this advice will protect you, your family, friends, community and our frontline staff who are working tirelessly to stop the spread of this virus.”
According to the national public health emergency team (NPHET), the number of confirmed cases exceeds 1,000; there is a day on day increase in ICU admissions; community transmission accounts for 45 per cent of cases; 25 per cent of cases are associated with healthcare workers; and there are a number of clusters in healthcare and residential settings. To date, six people have died due to Covid-19.
Measures introduced to date had received widespread understanding and support, it said, but given the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland and internationally, more restrictions were recommended.
Existing and additional measures will be in place until 19 April and will be kept under review, announced the Government this afternoon.
During his speech, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also said private hospitals will act as part of the public hospital system during the Covid-19 emergency. They will provide 2,000 beds, critical care facilities, nine laboratories and staff.