Carndonagh, Co Donegal, remains the local electoral area with the highest infection rate of Covid-19 in the State, with the area now in its sixth week at the top of the table and with ever-growing numbers for the disease.
The local electoral area (LEA) has recorded a 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 of 2,694 new cases per 100,000 of population, according to the latest weekly data examining how the virus is spreading across 166 geographical pockets. That is a 5 per cent increase on last week’s 2,558 new cases per 100,000.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) data shows that problematic virus spread continues to be focused in the northern and Border counties, just as Northern Ireland battles much higher numbers of the Delta variant.
Of the top 10 LEAs for infection rates as reported on Thursday – of a total of 166 LEAs – seven lie in Border areas, with a total of five counties represented.
On a national level, the State’s average 14-day case rate per 100,000 is also increasing. Now at 526.4, it has climbed from 493.2, and from 422.5 the week before.
Another strong metric of the increasing pace of the disease in many parts of the country is that nine of the top 10 LEAs have rates of more than 1,000 per 100,000. Two weeks ago there were just four, rising to seven last week.
The publication of the data is designed to facilitate greater insight into where the virus is most dominant.
The top three ranked LEAs remain the same as in last week’s numbers. On Thursday, second-placed Ballybay-Clones in Co Monaghan was reported as having a case rate of 2,318 per 100,000 (a rise of 50 per cent from 1,542 last week), and third-placed Bailieborough-Cootehill in Co Cavan is at 1,900.5 (up 32 per cent from 1,434).
Monaghan town, which had a rate of 1,414 last week, may have dropped from fourth position into fifth, but it now has a slightly higher rate of 1,472. Its previous fourth place is now occupied by Buncrana in Co Donegal, with a rate of 1,511, up from sixth position with 1,288 (a rise of 17 per cent).
The specifics shown by these five LEAs represent a much broader problem of disease spread currently being experienced in the country. "When incidence of disease is high, as it is in Ireland at the moment," chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Thursday, "it greatly increases the risk to you of contracting Covid-19."
The other areas in the top 10 include Swinford, Co Mayo in sixth (1,221); Boyle, Co Roscommon in seventh (1,186); Claremorris, Co Mayo (1,098); Cavan-Belturbet (1,025), and Letterkenny, Co Donegal (987). Only one of those five, Swinford, has recorded a drop in its infection rate.
Of the 166 LEAs whose data is routinely presented, just in excess of one-third (58) have infection rates either just above or considerably higher than the national average.
At the other end of the table, where numbers are significantly more encouraging, rates are still shown to be creeping in the wrong direction. The five "safest" areas, or those with the lowest per 100,000 case rates, include Muinebeag, Co Carlow (147); Athlone, Co Westmeath (159); Enniscorthy, Co Wexford (205.5); Tramore, Co Waterford (210), and Skibbereen, Co Cork (211). The average rate of the lowest five has risen, however, from 168 last week to 186, a gain of 11 per cent.