Coronavirus: 1,000 more cases and three further deaths reported in State
Record high of almost 1,300 Covid-19 cases recorded in Northern Ireland on Friday
‘Right now, we need everyone to cut their social contacts to an absolute minimum,’ chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Friday. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
A further 1,000 cases of Covid-19 and three deaths in people with the coronavirus were announced by the Department of Health on Friday, with people urged to cut social contacts to “an absolute minimum” amid growing concern about the path of the virus.
The total number of confirmed infections in the State now stands at 47,427, while there have been 1,841 Covid-19 related deaths.
Dr Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, urged people around the country to cut their social contacts, saying that “every time you physically interact with another person, you are providing an opportunity for the virus to spread”.
As of 2pm on Friday, there were 246 patients in hospital, of which 30 are in intensive care units.
“Case numbers are continuing to rise,” Dr Holohan said. “Right now, we need everyone to cut their social contacts to an absolute minimum.”
There have been 13 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
Data published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that Cavan has the highest incidence of Covid-19 in the country over the last 14 days, with 735.1 cases per 100,000 population. This is over three times the national rate of 217.9.
There were 254 cases diagnosed in Dublin, where Level 3 restrictions have been in place for almost a month. The average number of new cases in the capital between Monday and Friday of last week was 129.
Meath, Monaghan, Donegal and Clare round out the top five counties with the highest level of disease diagnosed in the last 14 days. The three counties with the lowest level of disease are Waterford, Wicklow and Tipperary - which has an incidence rate of 88.4 per 100,000 of population.
Contact tracing system
On Friday, public health sources expressed deep concern about the growth of the virus in the last week, as well as the impact of dealing with rising levels of infection on the hospital system. There is growing concern that the State’s contact tracing system, a key way of controlling the virus, is being put under significant pressure. Simultaneously, the level of community transmission is worrying senior health sources, who cautioned that moving gradually within the five-level framework would not effectively contain its spread.
However, there is concern in Government about the practical impact of moving to Level 5, as was recommended by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Thursday evening. While sources are concerned by the growth of the virus, some at Cabinet believe the impact of shutting down the country for a prolonged period may be too great, and doubt whether there would be public support for such a measure.
Of the cases notified on Friday, 478 were in men and 520 in women. Some 71 per cent were in those under 45 years of age, while the median age of those diagnosed is 31 years old.
Earlier on Friday, Northern Ireland recorded its highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases on Friday ahead of the introduction of new restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. According to the North’s Department of Health 1,299 people tested positive for the virus in the 24 hours to Friday. These included 315 new cases in Belfast, and 258 in Derry and Strabane. Two more coronavirus-related deaths were reported, bringing the number of fatalities recorded by the department to 608.
Ministers in the North announced on Wednesday that the hospitality sector is to close – with the exception of food deliveries and takeaways – in an attempt to halt the spiralling number of coronavirus cases.
It is among a range of new restrictions that came into effect from 6pm on Friday, and which will last for an initial period of four weeks, though this could be extended. Schools are closing for two weeks from Monday.