Covid-19: Italy, Austria and UK account for most imported cases

HSE report shows young people, while far less likely to get virus, have been hospitalised

People returning from Italy, Austria and the UK account for most of the travel-related coronavirus cases that have been diagnosed in Ireland to date, an analysis of confirmed infections finds.

There have been six outbreak clusters of Covid-19 in hospitals and four in nursing homes, the report by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) states.

The incidence of the disease is highest in Dublin, followed by Westmeath and Cork.

Young people, while far less likely to contract the disease, have been hospitalised and even admitted to intensive care as a result of the virus, the analysis shows.

The first report to examine the epidemiology of Covid-19 in Ireland covers the period up to last Sunday, when 965 cases had been reported.

By then, 277 patients had required hospitalisation (28.7 per cent) and 36 (3.7 per cent) had been admitted to intensive care and there had been six deaths.

While two-thirds of cases originated in Ireland, people returning from Italy accounted for 61 cases, followed by the UK (44), Austria (39) and Spain (20), said the health surveillance centre. Thirteen cases were related to travel from France, seven from Switzerland, and three from the United States.

Cases have also been linked to people returning from 17 other countries including Andorra, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Sweden.

A breakdown by age shows that just five children aged under five had contracted the disease, equivalent to 0.5 per cent of all cases. Just over 10 per cent of cases were among under-25s, while 17.1 per cent were among over-65s.

Age-specific incidence rate

However, the report also calculates the age-specific incidence rate, which is lowest among under-15s, rises to 13.4 per cent for 15- to 24-year-olds, and ranges between 24.5 per cent and 30.5 per cent for all older age groups.

Two under-fives and two five- to 14-year-olds have been hospitalised by the disease, along with 15 people aged 15 to 24.

One child aged between five and 14 has been admitted to intensive care, along with two 25- to 34-year-olds, three in the 35- to 44-year-old bracket, and 10 people aged between 45 and 54 years. There have also been eight intensive care admissions among 55- to 64-year-olds and 12 among those aged 65 and over.

No breakdown of the age gradient for fatal cases has been provided, presumably because the numbers remain low.

While foreign travel was implicated in the infection of 62 healthcare workers, no foreign travel was determined in 156 confirmed cases among healthcare workers. The vast majority of these were in the east, with 111 cases, followed by the south, with 19. Healthcare workers have become infected in all HSE regions.

An analysis of clusters found 13 were travel-related, 10 related to the “private house” and six were in hospitals. Five had broken out in extended families, four in nursing homes (all in the east) and just two in workplaces.