Tag Archives: COVID-19

Law student Roman Shortall was stopped by Gardai at Dublin Airport; Garda statement on the incident

This afternoon.

Liveline on RTÉ Radio One.

Meanwhile…

Anyone?

Earlier…

From top: Fianna Fáil Minister for Education Norma Foley (left), Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan; Ms Foley and Mr Martin; Minister for Employment and Social Protection Heather Humpheys

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Education Minister Norma Foley was asked about the stopping of Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment and jobseekers’ allowance payments to recipients who travel abroad on holidays.

Ms Foley was specifically asked “where did this come from? Was that brought to Cabinet at any point?” She was also asked if the legal change was notified to Cabinet.

She replied:

“No, I’m not aware of it having been brought to Cabinet.”

Meanwhile, last night…

Virgin Media One’s Gavan Reilly reported on comments made by Taoiseach Micheál Martin about the payment cuts as a result of checks having taken place at airports, as reported in the Business Post at the weekend and the Irish Daily Star on July 2.

It followed a bizarre sequence of events including a change to the Gov.ie website where the criteria for claiming the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was adjusted to include that people had to be “genuinely seeking work” to receive the PUP.

As a payment for people whose work has been suspended due to Covid-19 this stipulation of having to seek work appears to have been added to the list very recently.

(As recently as July 14, the Minister for Employment and Social Protection Heather Humphreys didn’t list this “genuinely seeking work” rule in a written answer about the PUP to Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming. In the same answer, she listed all the other criteria.)

In addition, the Irish version of the Gov.ie site doesn’t include this added condition of recipients having to be seeking work.

Curiously, on Sunday, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had told RTE that people receiving PUP had to be “genuinely seeking work”.

He also said the Department of Employment and Social Protection “gets information from the airports”, a claim denied by the Dublin Airport Authority and one which the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon is now examining.

Mr Martin said he was seeking a report on the apparent change of policy regarding PUP recipients, while members of the Dublin Airport Authority are appearing before the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response this morning.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon.

On RTÉ’s News at One.

Minister for Employment and Social Protection Heather Humphreys spoke to Christopher McKevitt about the same matter. During the interview, Ms Humphreys was repeatedly asked if there had been a change in Government advice pertaining to PUP recipients. She continually didn’t answer the question.

Then, at the end of the interview, she said people who work in pubs whose work has been suspended due to Covid-19 don’t have to look for other work in order to receive the PUP.

From the interview…

Christopher McKevitt: “Just in relation to one item from, that emerged from the weekend, the halting of payments for some 104 people arising from their travel plans a Dublin Airport. Can you, as the minister, explain what’s happened there?”

Heather Humphreys: “Yeah well, we are at a crucial stage in relation to dealing with this virus and, as we look across the world, we see other countries re-introducing restrictions and asking people to return to lockdown and the Irish people have sacrificed so much and nobody wants to see us go back.

“In relation to travelling abroad, the public health advice is very clear. Do not travel abroad except for essential reasons and I want to be very clear. If any person intends to travel for essential purposes – for example, for health reasons, for a family bereavement, or for whatever, you know, essential reason, they have to go – you will continue to get your payment.

“And we’re asking and we’re encouraging people to holiday at home this year.”

McKevitt: “Right but…”

Humphreys: “And follow the clear, public health advice so that…and that’s so important in our battle to defeat this virus.”

McKevitt: “Indeed it is but can we just ask you on the specific point about leaving the country. OK, it’s the public health advice, not to leave the country but it is also the tradition that people are entitled to a two-week holiday how so ever they choose to spend that holiday is their own affair. Yes, there is guidance but it’s not enforceable guidance is it? So, so it seems to me that the Government has potentially penalised people on the social welfare code, for making that decision to travel, no matter how distasteful many people may find that decision of theirs to do so.”

Humphreys: “Yeah, well, the public health advice is not to travel abroad and that applies to everyone. So, for example, we have 340,000 public servants in this country and if any one of those chose to travel abroad they will not be paid for the two-week quarantine period when they return and, equally, there’s many private companies [who] have also told their staff that if they choose to go abroad, they will not be paid for the period that they have to quarantine when they come home. So we’re not trying to pick on anybody here. We are doing what is right by the country to protect our people.”

McKevitt: “Has there been a change…minister, minister, minister, sorry to cut across you but has there been a change in the Government.ie advice on receiving, or eligibility to receive the pandemic unemployment payment. Is it now the case that you must be genuinely seeking work? Because there’s quite an amount of activity on social media saying this is a new element that is being introduced to the qualifying guidelines as of this morning?

Humphreys: “Well, as the economy has reopened up again, of course we want people to get back to work and that’s why we’re investing a huge amount of money in trying to get people back to work. But just to be clear, under normal circumstances, there is a flexibility under social welfare legislation whereby a person on jobseekers can travel abroad for up to two weeks and it doesn’t impact their payment. But the point here is that we are not in normal circumstances. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and it is in that context and in order to protect people’s lives…”

McKevitt: “Minister…minister…”

Humphreys: “…that we have temporarily suspended the flexibility that people can continue to receive their unemployment payment when abroad.”

McKevitt:Is there a change in the advice for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment? Let’s remind ourselves. It was for people who’d lost their job as a result of the pandemic or who’d been temporarily laid off because of the Covid-19 pandemic. That was, the expectation, for the 600-thousand-odd people who went on to it was that their job would be restored to them. Now, it seems that there is a new piece of guidance in terms of the eligibility to qualify for the PUP, that you must be genuinely seeking work. Is that the case?

Humphreys: “Yeah, well, you always have, for any unemployment…”

McKevitt: “No…”

Humphreys: “…benefit, you always had to be, you know, to look for work and genuinely be looking for work. But I think the point is being missed here. This is the public health advice, it’s to stay at home, and, and the point is that we should be staying in Ireland and in a couple of months’ time…”

McKevitt: “But is the message, minister, is the message now to the 300,000 or the 286,000 people who are receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, that they, as of this morning, must be genuinely seeking work? Is that the case now?

Humphreys: “Well for some whose industry hasn’t opened back up again, obviously if you work in a pub, you know, you’re looking to get your job back there again. But, for others, they should be looking for work and that’s what most people on PUP want to do, they want to get a job, they don’t want to be on the payment, they want to get back to work. But I just want to be…”

McKevitt: “No, but supposing they’re working for a company that can no longer afford to employ them. Is it the case now that they shouldn’t necessarily be looking forward to returning to their old job but should be seeking new work in a different work environment?

Humphreys: “Well unfortunately, yeah, unfortunately, there are going to be people who won’t be able to go back to their old jobs…”

McKevitt: “And is that new advice as of today?

Humphreys: “Well, no, it’s not new advice. Obviously if you can’t get back to work, you need to, most people want to get back to work, they don’t want to stay on the unemployment payment and that’s why I have extended it. You know, last week, in the jobs stimulus, in relation to the payment, instead of reducing the payment to €203 in August, as originally planned, the Government has decided to take a fair approach and extend the payment until April and that is because we do not want anyone to suffer a cliff-edge reduction in their payment.

“So we’re not telling people you know, that, to stay at home, we want them to come back to work and that’s why we’re investing €200million in back-to-work initiatives and job incentive programmes.”

McKevitt: “If we were to return to phase two, arising from perhaps a second wave, and people had to return, people who had returned to work having received the PUP, were to go back onto the PUP scheme again, would the advice be to genuinely seek work with an alternative employer?

Humphreys: “Well, if, of course, if we go back on to the, you know, if we go backwards, and we hope, we don’t go backwards, that’s the whole point of following the public health advice, that’s the whole point of asking people to stay at home this year, because the safest thing you can do is stay at home. But you’re looking at a situation that may or may not occur.

“But the point is, if you’re on the public, the unemployment benefit at this point in time, if you don’t have a job to go to, then you should be actively looking for other work. And, you know, if your job is no longer there. In the case of some sectors, for example, if you work in a pub, we are hoping that you will be able to go back to your job so you don’t have to be looking for work in that situation. But if you find that you’re going to be permanently unemployed because your job isn’t there then you should be looking for work and that’s why we have invested all of this money in a job activation programme.”

McKevitt: “Many thanks, Minister for Social Protection and Employment Affairs Heather Humphreys.”

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile…

Listen back in full here

Stop that!

Yesterday.

On the 3.05pm train from Galway to Dublin.

Holly Carpenter tweetz:

“50% of the seats are marked off so that people can socially distance – yet every carriage corridor looks like this. Impossible to get to the toilet without being on top of one & other. I don’t mean to sound negative – but this is not right.”

Anyone?

Derek Kelly, Dublin City Council; Daire Enright, Failte Ireland; Barry Rodgers, Waterways Ireland; Catherine McGovern, Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane; Aileesh Carew, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum; Edel Currie, Dublin Port; Mary O’Sullivan, iHubbs; Luke Smith, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

Today.

Outside EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum.

Dublin City Council and business owners launched a marketing campaign to inform residents and visitors that Dublin Docklands has open for business.

Where’s yer masks?

Meanwhile…

Dublin City Council writes:

Dublin City Council has begun rolling out an uplifting new lamp post banner campaign called ‘Words for our Time’ to welcome people back to the city.

From today, a series of colourful banners will be displayed across the city featuring quotes from some of the great writers of the past whose words still have resonance in 2020.

Some of the writers quoted include W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, Bram Stoker, and Jonathan Swift.

As restrictions ease, the feel-good banners are designed to make people smile, and encourage the continuation of the great community spirit seen all over the city during the Covid-19 crisis.

The new campaign will feature on lamp post banners, bus shelters, and digipanels.

Meanwhile…

Jaykers.

Anyone?

Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews

UPDATE:

Brian Hayes, CEO of Banking and Payments Federation Ireland

This afternoon.

Former Fine Gael minister and CEO of Banking and Payments Federation Ireland responded to claims that guidance from European regulators undermine the Irish banks’ policy of applying interest and adding it to the principal of a loan at the end of a break period.

Via RTÉ

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Hayes said the EBA guidance, produced on 2 April, could not be clearer.

The guidance said that the sequencing of loan repayments could be changed but the interest rate could not; and if the interest rate was changed, this could be classified as forbearance.

This advice, he said, did not change until yesterday

However…

Um.

Anyone?

Irish banks ‘upfront’ since day one about payment break costs – Brian Hayes (RTÉ)

Rollingnews

From top: a Dublin Nursing home; The Citywest emergency ICU facility; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (centre) with HSE CEO Paul Reid (left) and Minister For Health at the Citywest opening; DrTony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health and chairman of The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET); from left: Mr Reid with Dr Colm Henry (right) Chief Clinical Office, HSE arriving for a Covid 19 Committee meeting in Leinster House on June 6

There are approximately 440 private nursing homes and 120 HSE-run nursing homes in Ireland with around 30,000 residents.

More than 1,680 patients were approved for transfer from acute hospitals to private nursing homes in March (1,363) and April (324), the height of the pandemic.

This was as emergency ICU facilities and private wards secured by the government lay empty.

According to the most recent data, 943 people have died in nursing homes from Covid-19 with a further 5,371 who are Covid-19 positive.

This policy was replicated in seven European countries and five states in America, most notably New York, where before a u-turn, 4,300 recovering Covid-19 patients were sent to nursing homes in the state.

Below is a timeline of events as they pertain to residents of nursing homes in Ireland from the  the beginning of the virus until this week. Any additions or corrections will be made (just leave a comment).

February 19, 2020: The CEO of the HSE Paul Reid meets with representatives of nursing homes to discuss Covid-19 preparedness. On April 16, Minister for Health Simon Harris informs the Dáil that this meeting occurred and said:

“I am told by local HSE staff that there was an unprecedented level of engagement by individual HSE officials with nursing homes.

That is not to say in any manner or means that enough has been done. We need to do more.

This is a pandemic in which we take actions every single day. We then take another set of actions and then another set. That is what we are doing.”

In respect of the same February 19 meeting, CEO of the HSE Paul Reid told the Oirecachtas Covid-19 committee on May 19:

“Specifically, on the meeting with Nursing Homes Ireland, I would meet and discuss with Tadhg Daly on a reasonable basis throughout this whole process – in the pandemic over the last few weeks. There have been very good relationships between Nursing Homes Ireland and the HSE throughout this period.

“On the Deputy’s question of 19 February specifically, I can remember the meeting clearly. I have met a wide range of stakeholders since I took over the HSE. That was my first meeting with Nursing Homes Ireland. It was my first meeting with Tadhg Daly and its chairperson, Maurice Pratt. It was really geared towards an informal welcome and discussion…

“We had a brief discussion about how this may impact on Ireland. There was a very brief discussion between both of us. I would be doing it an injustice and indeed the HSE an injustice to say it was an in-depth discussion because we were just learning at the start of this – 19 February was very early stages.”

February 28: Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan confirms the first case of Covid-19 has been detected on the island of Ireland, involving a woman who travelled through Dublin Airport on her way home to Northern Ireland from northern Italy. She subsequently tested positive for the illness on returning home to Belfast.

February 29: The Health Protection Surveillance Centre confirms the first case of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland. The patient is a male in the east of the country.

It’s also reported that the first death of a Covid-19 patient had taken place in the US.

March 1: Scoil Chaitriona secondary school in Glasnevin, Dublin 9, closes for two weeks. Health officials do not publicly name the school but its identified on social media. It follows confirmation that a male student had Covid-19. He had been at an at-risk area in northern Italy.

March 2: Paul Cullen reports in The Irish Times that Covid-19 is especially worrying for elderly people with underlying health conditions.

He writes::

 “In the US, a serious outbreak near Seattle has occurred in a nursing home. Obviously, the risk of something similar happening in Ireland is a huge worry.”

He later added:

 “Nursing Homes Ireland, representing the owners of private nursing homes, has sought to reassure the public that its members have the experience to know what to do if the virus arrives, given their experience in dealing with seasonal flu and the vomiting bug. Some restrictions on visiting may be needed if the threat from the virus rises.”

March 6: It’s reported that visiting restrictions are being introduced in more than 400 private and voluntary nursing homes across Ireland. Nursing Homes Ireland says no non-essential visits by children or groups would be allowed.

March 9: The Government cancels all St Patrick’s Day parades.

March 10: The Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said blanket restrictions on visitors at nursing homes and some hospitals should be lifted as they were premature.

He said visitor restrictions at private nursing homes had a major impact on residents, for whom social interaction was a key part of wellbeing.

While restrictions might be necessary in a particular nursing home depending on circumstances, he said there was no case for across-the-board restrictions, saying: “We want to avoid introducing measures before they are really necessary.”

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NEPHT) announced in a statement that “socially restrictive actions” around hospitals and nursing homes were “not necessary at this moment in time”.

It’s reported that the annual St Patrick’s Day reception in Washington DC has been cancelled but that a meeting between the US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will still take place.

On the same day, Nursing Homes Ireland writes to the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the letter is also sent to the chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid, and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

In the letter, the NHI called on the Government to lift curbs on the recruitment of healthcare assistants from outside the EU and warned that older people’s health could be placed in danger if HSE poached nursing home staff following the lifting of public service recruitment restrictions.

March 11: A woman in the east of the country dies of Covid-19, the  first death to take place in Ireland.

The World Health Organisation says Covid-19 is a pandemic.

March 12: Speaking from Washington in the US, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces the closure of schools and significant public restrictions in Ireland until March 29 because of Covid-19.

Rose Hegarty, an 84-year-old resident of St Mary’s Hospital nursing home in the Phoenix Park, Dublin listens to Mr Varadkar’s speech from her bedroom.

March 16: Dr Tony Holohan says that restrictions will be imposed on visitors to nursing homes, hospitals and prisons.

March 17: During a St Patrick’s Day speech broadcast on RTÉ and Virgin Media One, under Section 122 of the Broadcast Act 2009, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tells those listening and watching that the restrictions will likely go beyond March 29. He adds:

“We’re in the middle of a global and national emergency. A pandemic. The likes of which none of us have seen before. So far, the number of cases in Ireland has been relatively small. However we believe the number will rise to 15,000 cases or more by the end of the month and rise further in the weeks thereafter.”

He also says:

“At a certain point we will advise the elderly and people who have a long-term illness to stay at home for several weeks. We’re putting in place the systems to ensure that if you are one of them, you will have food, supplies and are checked on. We call it cocooning and it will save many lives, particularly the lives of the most vulnerable, the most precious in our society.”

It’s also reported that Nursing Homes Ireland is appealing for people within hospitality and retail to look for opportunities to care for older people. CEO of NHI Tadhg Daly is reported as saying:

“One considerable concern is to ensure a staffing complement is consistently available to meet the day-to-day social care needs of nursing home residents, especially at a time of emergency and with visitor restrictions.”

“Irish people have a tremendous ability to support one another during difficult times and this has never been more required.”

March 21: In a HSE memo from David Walsh, National Director of Community Operations, to the chief officers of community healthcare organisations, about revised guidance in relation to testing.

Mr Walsh tells his colleagues:

“Following confirmation of a Covid positive diagnosis within the unit/centre then it is assumed that all residents presenting with symptoms are Covid positive. Multiple re-referrals to NAS for potential Covid cases should be avoided.”

March 22: It’s reported that  40,000 people are waiting up to five days for Covid-19 tests. It’s also reported that “when asked about reports of a cluster of positive cases at a nursing home, the HSE said outbreaks of infectious diseases in nursing homes were not uncommon and staff were used to dealing with this issue. However, the scale and numbers would be extremely challenging.”

A cluster is defined as two laboratory-positive cases in an institution.

The report added: “The HSE has asked the media not to identify any nursing homes concerned.”

March 24: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces further restrictions until April 19.

March 25: The HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre reports that there have been six outbreak clusters of Covid-19 in hospitals and four in nursing homes.

It’s also reported that 21 male residents of a nursing home in the Vosges in France, all aged in their 90s, are believed to have died of Covid-19. It’s feared as many as 100,000 nursing home residents could die of Covid-19.

March 26: Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan expresses concern about clusters of cases in healthcare settings such as hospitals and long-stay settings such as nursing homes.

March 27: In a report about the statistic that about 25 per cent of confirmed cases are health workers, at least four Covid-19 outbreaks have occurred in nursing homes and that nursing home operators, and others, are concerned about a lack of guidance and the availability of PPE.

Later, new figures show there have been nine Covid-19 clusters in nursing homes. Dr Holohan says the clusters are a significant concern for public health experts.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces further restrictions for two weeks, until Easter Sunday on April 12, specifically that people must remain at home, with limited exceptions, and must remain within 2km of their homes when shopping for food or exercising. During his speech he mentions the increase of clusters in nursing home and residential care centres.

He also quotes from the movie The Terminator 2: Judgement Day when he says, “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”

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Which, as we all know, is currently under invasion. To wit:

All over planet Earth, the human home world, DNA-based humans are being invaded by the RNA-based SARS-CoV2. The virus, which creates a disease known as COVID-19, specializes in reprogramming human cells into zombies that manufacture and release copies of itself. Pictured here is a high magnification image of a human cell covered by attacking novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 (orange). Epic battles where two species square off in a fight to the death are not unusual on Earth, with several just involving humans typically ongoing at any time. Even so, most humans are predicted to survive. After several years, humanity expects to win this war — but only after millions of humans have died and trillions of coronaviruses have been destroyed.

(Image: NIAID)

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