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Christmas chance Covid is killing more men than women in Ireland, figures show


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Members of the public passing the Pennys store on Henry Street

Members of the public passing the Pennys store on Henry Street

Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly

/

Members of the public passing the Pennys store on Henry Street

COVID-19 is continuing to claim more lives of men than women in Ireland as new figures show that at least 10 people a week have lost their lives to the virus in the past month.

The ongoing death toll comes as eight more fatalities linked to Covid-19 were announced yesterday with 499 newly diagnosed cases.

But with four more weeks of lockdown ahead, there is growing evidence the spread of the virus is shrinking. Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 61 more men than women died of the virus up to the end of last month.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the aim is to create a "window of opportunity for December" to allow people have a good but "different Christmas."

Protection

The extent to which the country will open up in early December is still unclear but areas of high and lower risk are now being analysed.

There was a fall in hospitalisations yesterday - down to 292 patients, with 37 people seriously ill in intensive care.

Among the new cases, 175 were in Dublin, 72 in Cork, 29 in Limerick, 26 in Mayo, 21 in Meath with the rest spread around nineteen other counties.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is expected to announce €10m in funding this weekend to provide more protection from Covid-19 to highly vulnerable adults and children receiving end-of-life care in hospices and other settings.

Some €8.5m will be distributed to the members of the Voluntary Hospice Group to allow them to increase the numbers of in-patient palliative care beds.

In addition, €350,000 will be provided for specialist palliative home care in the south east, €750,000 will be granted to the Laura Lynn Hospice, and €400,000 will be shared between the Irish Hospice Foundation, All Ireland Institute of Palliative Care, the Jack and Jill Children's Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society.

Meanwhile, the first official guidance has been given to the public around the use of visors - much favoured by retail staff and hairdressers, as an alternative to face masks.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre's (HPSC) advice is that cloth face coverings are preferred to visors.

"Some authoritative international guidance recommends against the use of visors alone.

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"There is also a body of evidence and opinion that visors offer a significant degree of protection against droplet exposure compared to no face covering."

The visors do reduce exposure to droplets to a "certain extent" and may be an alternative in certain circumstance including for people with breathing difficulties, those who cannot remove masks without help and anyone with "particular needs who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing and mask or face covering."

They may also be useful in settings where people who have learning difficulties or have hearing difficulties are present.

When visors are used they need to cover the entire face, above the eyes to below the chin and wrap around from ear to ear. They also need to be correctly applied. However, Labour leader Alan Kelly said the advice was "incoherent."

"The Labour Party have repeatedly called for clear absolute advice and a comprehensive public information campaign emphasising the wearing of face masks over visors," he said

"The medical advice is clear and unambiguous in that masks are far more effective against the transmission of the virus and that people who wear face visors instead of masks may be putting themselves at greater risk from the illness.

Confusing

"I raised this a number of times with both the Taoiseach and Minister Stephen Donnelly to stress the need for a strong public awareness campaign emphasising the importance of wearing face masks and not visors.

"This new advice from the HPSC is confusing, incoherent and unhelpful. It does not provide any clarity to people out there who may be unknowingly putting themselves at higher risk of transmitting the virus by wearing a visor and not a mask.

"We cannot have a situation where both Nphet and other medical experts are saying that visors offer minimal protection at best against the transmission of droplets and the HPSC are saying that they may be used as an alternative to face masks.

"I am calling on Minister Donnelly to take the lead on this, we need clarity and not further confusion."

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