Coronavirus: Health officials 'very concerned' after highest number of cases since May reported
Total of 85 confirmed Covid-19 cases is highest daily number since late May
Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer, said officials were very concerned about the increase in Covid-19 cases. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin
A sharp increase in coronavirus cases has caused significant concern among public health officials, with an additional 85 newly-confirmed cases reported on Thursday.
It is the highest number of cases notified in a day since late May, which acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said left officials “very concerned”.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will now monitor the situation “extremely closely” over the next two days, he said.
The increase “may be a blip associated with a number of significant clusters, or it may be a sign of something more significant”, Dr Glynn told a press briefing on Thursday.
The spread of Covid-19 in the country was now “a rapidly evolving situation”, according to Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the team’s data modelling group.
The recent increase included cases connected to several large outbreaks, and “there is no evidence that these cases are spreading in the community”, he said.
Dr Glynn said it was “not the time for a knee-jerk reaction”, and any steps taken by the team would depend on the number of cases reported in the coming days. “Next week is very far away at this point, we will be monitoring this on the hour,” he said.
NPHET is due to make a recommendation to the Government on moving to phase four of easing restrictions, which would see pubs permitted to reopen on August 10th. The Cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to make a decision on the matter.
Dr Glynn said he would not “speculate” on what they would recommend, as much would depend on “what happens over the next 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours”, he said.
Speaking in the Dáil earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he hoped the Government would be able to decide to allow pubs reopen, but said he “can’t guarantee that at this stage”.
Mr Varadkar was responding to concerns raised by TDs about the viability of pubs. TDs had said the lengthy closure was contributing to a “massive surge in home drinking and uncontrolled house parties”.
There was also one further Covid-19 related death reported on Thursday, with the total number of fatalities now at 1,763, and 26,027 confirmed cases. Of the 85 newly reported cases, 18 were connected to an outbreak at a pet food factory in Co Kildare, which shut down late last week following confirmed cases.