Coronavirus: Two-thirds of public want tougher restrictions

Survey shows levels of anger are at their highest in the pandemic, while fear is also increasing

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan leaving Government Buildings in Dublin after meeting  Ministers on Monday. Photograph: PA Wire

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan leaving Government Buildings in Dublin after meeting Ministers on Monday. Photograph: PA Wire

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Almost two out of every three people think the Government should impose more restrictions to curb Covid-19, according to a new opinion poll.

The 63 per cent of people calling for more restrictions marks a significant rise in this sentiment over the previous week, when 54 per cent were of this view.

Back in early June, just 20 per cent of the population favoured the imposition of more restrictions.

Conversely, the proportion of people opposed to more restrictions fell to 23 per cent, from a high of 66 per cent in June, according to the poll conducted on Monday by Amarach Research for the Department of Health.

For the first time in the pandemic, more people think Ireland is trying to return to normal “a bit too quickly” than at “about the right pace” (35 per cent against 34 per cent). Eighteen per cent think this is happening “much too quickly”.

On Monday - as the Government was extending Level 3 restrictions to the entire country - 44 per cent of people felt its response to the coronavirus pandemic was appropriate and 44 per cent said it was insufficient. In the spring, over 80 per cent of people approved of the extent of the Government response.

Levels of worry have risen to rates not seen since early April, and specific worries about the economy and prolonged restrictions are at the highest levels seen in the pandemic.

Levels of anger are at their highest levels in the pandemic, while fear is also reported to be increasing.

The findings were released on Tuesday as chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan called for a “broad societal effort” to curb the coronavirus over the coming weeks.

Some 432 further cases were confirmed on Tuesday and one further death was reported to the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 1,811. The total number of virus cases now stands at 38,973.

Of the cases notified on Tuesday, 111 in Dublin, 51 in Donegal, 41 in Cork, 32 in Clare and the remaining 197 are located across 20 counties.

The new cases in Donegal, the worst-affected county in the Republic, means its incidence is now close to 300 cases per 100,000 people in the past fortnight.

Almost half of Tuesday’s are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case, while 60 cases involve community transmission.

Spread

Some 62 per cent of cases are under 45 years of age.

“Every one of us has the power to interrupt the spread of this virus and now is a vital time to use it,” Dr Holohan said.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn urged anyone with a relevant symptom – a cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell – not to go to work or to try to interact with others and to contact a GP.

The incidence of the virus rose yesterday in 21 counties, was unchanged in two and fell in just three counties (Kilkenny, Waterford and Roscommon), according to the latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Case numbers increased by 37 per cent in Limerick, 30 per cent in Offaly and 16 per cent in Monaghan compared to the previous day.

Over 95 per cent of people who died with the virus had an underlying condition, according to the latest HPSC update. Among those admitted to ICU, people with underlying conditions accounted for 87.8 per cent. Some 31.8 per cent of those diagnosed with the disease in the community had an underlying condition, as did 67.8 per cent of those hospitalised.

Critical care beds

According to the Department of Health, there were 150 coronavirus patients in hospital on Tuesday morning, the same as the previous day. This included 24 patients in ICU, up one.

The HSE said it had 33 free critical care beds across the system on Monday evening. Meanwhile, staff at two large Irish hospitals are to be tested as part of a study looking at rates of previous coronavirus infections in healthcare workers.

Over the next two weeks, the staff at St James’s Hospital in Dublin and University Hospital Galway will be invited to have a blood test to determine the presence of virus antibodies. The study will be repeated in six months and the data compared.

“The study will help the health service better understand this new infection, including the risk factors relevant to healthcare workers, for example the areas they work in and the type of patient exposure they have, as well as factors such as their sex, age and living arrangements,” said HSE national clinical director for health protection Dr Lorraine Doherty.

The study will also be used to estimate the level of immunity to the virus among healthcare workers, and those still at risk of contracting it.

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