Coronavirus: 188 new cases and no further deaths amid concern over eight counties

‘Possibility’ other counties will have status elevated to Level 3, says Eamon Ryan

Government spokesperson Liz Canavan has warned of "worrying" Covid-19 trends in eight counties outside of Dublin - Louth, Waterford, Limerick, Kildare, Leitrim, Donegal, Offaly and Wicklow. Video: RTÉ

 

A further 188 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), 76 of them in Dublin.

This brings to 33,121 the total number of cases linked to the virus in the Republic. No new deaths were reported, leaving the total number of deaths at 1,792.

Of today’s cases, 25 are in Cork, 21 in Donegal, 16 in Kildare, 13 in Galway, 7 in Roscommon and 7 in Waterford, with the remaining 23 cases spread across 12 counties.

Men account for 96 cases and women for 90, while 71 per cent are agend under 45 years.

Nineteen cases were identified as community transmission and 36 per cent are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: “The spirit of the response to Covid-19 since the outset of this pandemic has been solidarity and cooperation. While this pandemic is a uniquely challenging time for everyone, we can and will support one another in getting through this.

“Encourage your family and friends to heed the public health advice. Now more than ever, we need to work collectively. Our individual actions count on a population level.

“Every one of us doing our bit in our daily lives - halving our social contacts, working from home, keeping our distance, wearing a face covering, washing our hands - matters a great deal. These small, positive steps taken together amount to our best and strongest defence against the virus.”

Level of worry in the population are at levels similar to those seen at the height of the pandemic in April, according to research conducted for the Department of Health.

With a 6.5 rating out of 10, the main sources of worry are health system overload, the health of family and friends and the economy.

Some 47 per cent of people think the worst of the pandemic is ahead of us, the highest level reported since April. A majority of people (52 per cent) think there should be more restrictions, similar to the levels reported in March.

Eight counties

The figures come as Government is concerned at trends in the spread of Covid-19 in the counties of Louth, Waterford, Limerick, Kildare, Leitrim, Donegal, Offaly and Wicklow.

At a Covid-19 briefing, assistant secretary general at the Department of Taoiseach Liz Canavan said there are now “worrying trends in most areas”.

A second period of sweeping national restrictions would result in “intolerable challenges” and must be avoided, the Government warned this morning.

Speaking after the first weekend of Level 3 restrictions for Dublin, Ms Canavan said the new framework for living alongside coronavirus has set out specific priorities including education, childcare, health and social care services.

“Many of these groups have suffered most and a second period of restrictions has to be avoided or the challenges will accrue in ways that would be intolerable.”

“After that we want to protect as many businesses as possible. We also want to protect and promote those things which are critical to our personal resilience. Access to sports, arts, physical activity and other activities which are part of who we are and how we sustain ourselves mentally when times are hard.”

Ms Canavan said levels of the virus are increasing rapidly and community transmission is increasing.

In terms of the decision to place the entire county of Dublin on Level 3 of the framework, she said the profile of the disease in Dublin is “at an extremely critical juncture.”

Choices

“These choices are incredibly difficult to make. All the time it is a balancing act. Public health would not recommend these measures, and Government would not implement them, if they did not truly believe they are necessary now.”

“We are currently at Level 2 of the framework nationally. We want to stay there or improve to Level 1. We don’t want to go the other way. To keep all of the businesses we care about open, we must all work together to stop the spread of the virus.”

The public has again been urged to limit social interactions, keep a distance, wear a mask and wash their hands while practising good respiratory etiquette.

Ms Canavan said that as a nation, Ireland is “weary” and said “there is no one who is not tired of it all.”

“Whether that is simply that you are fearful and isolated because you are more vulnerable to the disease, perhaps you have lost a loved one, perhaps you are working on the frontline where you see no end in sight. Maybe you have lost your job and have real money worries, or perhaps you have a business which is barely making it from week to week.”

Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan warned at the weekend there was a “possibility” that other counties would have their Covid-19 status elevated to Level 3 alongside Dublin.

While Dublin has the highest incidence of coronavirus, acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn tweeted on Sunday night that most other counties were also seeing a rise in coronavirus numbers.

In Louth, the 14-day incidence rate has risen to 102 per 100,000 of the population with 131 cases in the past fortnight; in Donegal the incidence rate increased to 84 per 100,000 with 133 cases in the past fortnight and in Waterford it rose to 89 per 100,000 with 103 cases in the last fortnight.

Limiting contacts

Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the epidemiological modelling advisory group of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), said on Monday that while testing was important, the primary defence against the spread of the virus was to limit contacts.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Prof Nolan acknowledged that social contact was important for people’s welfare and health, but urged the public to “exercise personal discretion” about how often they engage in social activities.

“The subtle message is to reduce your social contacts by half and, if we do that, Dublin can move down from Level 3 to Level 2 and other counties will be able to avoid those restrictions that were imposed on Dublin,” he said.

However, he warned even if people “work really hard”, progress to reduced transmission could still be very slow. If the rate of transmission stabilises in 10 days “that will be a really good sign,” he said. “We need to keep at it to keep the trend downwards.”

Now is not the time for negligence even though the mortality rate from the virus for over 65s has dropped from one in five in April to one in 20 today, said Prof Nolan. He reassured listeners that there was no need to panic but said it was important to remember “this is still a lethal virus”.

Prof Nolan said it will take at least a week to see the results of the measures introduced in Dublin at the weekend.

Dublin’s incidence rate currently varies from 187.3 in Dublin North-West to 55.9 in Dublin South, according to the latest epidemiological report from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Despite the rise in cases, pubs outside Dublin that do not serve food will be permitted to open today, for the first time since mid-March.