Seventy-five Irish nursing homes need “intensive” support during the Covid-19 crisis, a health service manager said.

Concerns have been expressed about deaths amid clusters of infection at care properties.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said there was no evidence the virus was being spread from discharged hospital patients.

Elderly woman
A total of 285 premises are receiving support for Covid-19 cases (Yui Mok/PA)

Anne O’Connor, chief operations officer at the HSE, said many nursing homes were relying on telephone advice and support.

“Our preference is to support the nursing homes to continue to provide care. It is very important that we seek to support the nursing home to provide care.

“The nursing home is a person’s home, they should only be moved on the basis of clinical need.”

A total of 285 premises are receiving support for Covid-19 cases, including the 75 with “intensive” needs whose operations are deemed by health service managers to be at significant risk.

That is out of a country-wide total of 435 long-term care facilities.

The HSE has disclosed that 21 people have died at a Dublin nursing home since the start of April. St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park cares for the elderly.

Another HSE official said: “We are seeing that patients are being well-managed and are well cared for.

“It is around ensuring that we can, as much as possible, shore up that support and care that is needed within the residential home itself.”

Most are being managed well, with good attention to detail like fluids and nutrition, she added.

“Another group of sicker patients need higher level nursing support.”

Mass testing has begun at the institutions to discover who has the virus, including those who are asymptomatic. Staff who test positive will have to leave the workplace.

This month has seen a sharp increase in the number of cases and deaths from the virus in nursing homes, in part due to the effort to rapidly test residents.