NINE PEOPLE passed away in one residential care home in just three days over the bank holiday weekend.
Of the nine who have died, eight had tested positive for coronavirus, raising fears for the remaining 17 residents at the Maryborough Centre for Psychiatry of Old Age, which is based in Portlaoise, Co Laois.
A statement from the HSE expressed deep condolences to the families and friends of those who died, who are reported to have been between 66 and 84 years of age, and assured the public that the remaining residents are being sufficiently cared for.
"The HSE would like to express its sincere sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased," a spokesperson said in a statement.
"Staff at the centre are in contact with the families of the deceased and are available for support and advice."
The 17 people who remain residents of the Laois residential home are now being treated as though they have the virus, whether or not they are showing symptoms, in order to further protect them.
Their conditions will be reviewed by medical consultants from the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise, and additional personal protective equipment has been provided to staff at the centre.
There have been extreme concerns for those in residential or nursing homes due to the high volume of 'cluster' cases which have been identified within them.
On Tuesday, April 14, the National Public Health Emergency Team met to discuss additional protections, including financial support, across nursing homes and other residential healthcare settings.
Speaking at the time, Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health, said:
"We remain concerned about the prevalence of COVID-19 in nursing homes and residential care settings.
“The National Public Health Emergency Team is monitoring developments in these facilities and continues to advance supports and actions where needed.
“From the beginning, we have been aware that vulnerable groups, including the elderly, are at greater risk from this virus. These groups will continue to be our priority.”
Latest figures show that 159 clusters of coronavirus cases have been identified in nursing homes across the country, with 60 others reported in other residential institutions.
A cluster is defined by three or more connected cases in one area.