National emergency team will review measures taken to tackle nursing home outbreaks at Friday meeting

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said 18 Covid-19 response teams, including doctors and nurses, are to be deployed to nursing homes around the country, with 61 HSE staff already deployed.
Mr Harris told RTÉs Morning Ireland every union has worked with the HSE to agree their members will be redeployed and this will include doctors and crisis management teams.
We are making good progress as a country but we need to redouble our efforts with regards to nursing homes and residential care centres.
The National Public Health Emergency Team will on Friday review measures taken to tackle the large number of outbreaks that have occurred in nursing homes and other institutional settings so far.
There have been 254 outbreaks in residential settings, of which 163 were in nursing homes.
Some 302 of the deaths so far have occurred in residential settings including 253 in nursing homes.
The Minister said a number of measures will be taken on Friday, including an increase in extra testing, which will include testing asymptomatic people.
The day you believe you have done enough is the day you lose the battle against this deadly virus.
We cannot save everyone, but we will make sure nobody is left behind.
The frontline in the battle against this disgusting virus is in residential care centres, he said.
Nursing homes and community care are behind the curve in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, the head of Nursing Homes Ireland has said.
There is not consistency of support to nursing homes throughout the country, and that needs to change, Tadhg Daly told Newstalk Breakfast.
The two issues that have been highlighted consistently for the sector have been testing and the lack of personal protective equipment, he added.
We saw what was happening in other countries. We made contact with our members on January 30th, and we were in constant contact with the HSE and the Department of Health throughout February.
Ireland was not an outlier here, he said. The numbers of deaths in nursing homes were not higher than other countries.
Some of the measures taken have been having an impact, Mr Daly said, adding figures for transmission have slowed down in recent days.
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said nursing homes would not be the forgotten frontline in the war against coronavirus. But he said the fact the problem was not being dealt with as quickly as he would like was a reflection of the scale of the Covid-19 crisis.
Minister for Health Simon Harris announced a 72 million support package for nursing homes at the start of April that included twice-daily staff screening and priority testing in an effort to stem coronavirus outbreaks.
There have been 486 Covid-19 related deaths in the Republic and a total of 13,271 confirmed cases.
While the daily number of deaths reached a new high of 43 on Thursday, overall the rate of growth in cases, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and deaths has slowed considerably since the start of the month.
The number of newly confirmed cases of Covid-19 is peaking around now and should decline in coming weeks, said Prof Philip Nolan of NUI Maynooth, who leads a team modelling trends in the epidemic.
When asked about the lifting of restrictions on Friday, Mr Harris said he will be guided by the health experts.
We are not going to erase the progress people have made or put lives in danger.
The Minister said he would like to put a plan in place to lift the restrictions gradually, but he warned that will not mean going back to life as it was before and measures such as social distancing will remain in place for some time. The lifting of restrictions is going to be complex and delicate and will involve trial and error.
There will not be a dramatic change, he said. Its going to be gradual, slow and we have to monitor it carefully. Im determined were not going to go the way of Italy or Spain.
Immunology expert Prof Kingston Mills has cautioned that testing for Covid-19 needs to be ramped up before any restrictions can be lifted.
The lock in is working, it is restricting the spread of the virus, he told Newstalk Breakfast. However, he warned that testing needs to be at the highest level.
Hopefully by May 4th transmission rates, the number of deaths and ICU admissions will have gone down thats the aspiration, theyre the real values.
Test every individual in contact with anyone tested positive; otherwise youre allowing people to escape the net, who may not have symptoms and can spread the virus.
The laboratories have been overrun, hospitals are now doing testing I think theres a commercial company going to come on board to dramatically increase the testing, Prof Mills said.
Easing back into normality will be a slow process, but it cannot be considered unless there has been widespread testing, he said.