Coronavirus: Warning of similar measures for other counties as Donegal moves to Level 3

Government’s elevation of Donegal comes after substantial rises in infections in county

Locals Don McMenamin and his wife Lorraine with their daughter, Laura (9), on their way to Laura’s First Holy Communion in St Mary’s Church, Stranorlar, Co Donegal. Photograph: Joe Dunne

Locals Don McMenamin and his wife Lorraine with their daughter, Laura (9), on their way to Laura’s First Holy Communion in St Mary’s Church, Stranorlar, Co Donegal. Photograph: Joe Dunne

 

The Government moved swiftly yesterday to elevate Co Donegal to Level 3 of the Covid-19 scale after a dramatic and rapid deterioration of the situation with the virus in the county.

The move came after a substantial increases in the cases in the county with the 14-day rate in Lifford and Stranorlar area at 336 per 100,000 people. The number of cases per 100,000 over the past fortnight in the county increased to 148.2, the highest in the country. It is now higher than Dublin’s rate of about 145.

An incorporeal meeting of the Cabinet was quickly arranged last night after the National Public Health Emergency Team recommended Donegal the county be put on the same level as Dublin from midnight on Friday.

At a press conference to confirm the decision, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said Donegal now had twice the levels of infection of every other county besides Dublin over the past seven days.

From midnight on Friday people residing in Donegal will be asked not to travel outside the county unless essential. There will be bans on indoor dining, further restrictions on the number of spectators at sporting events, and strict limits on the number of people that can gather indoors and outdoors. The numbers allowed at weddings and funerals will be reduced to 25. The restrictions will apply for three weeks until October 16th . Unlike in Dublin, wet pubs in Donegal will allowed to open but only for outdoor drinks for up to 15 people.

However, Mr Martin warned of similar measures in other counties and cities where the incidence rate was rising. “To be honest we could have similar announcements for other areas in the coming week, if the numbers keep rising,” he said.

Dr Glynn specifically warned of possible escalations in other counties urging people in Louth, Wicklow, Kildare, Waterford, Cork and Galway to pay particular attention to public health advice.

The Taoiseach said cities like Cork and Galway have started from a low base but “incident rates are growing very fast”.

Border worries

Mr Martin and Dr Glynn said despite the remainder of the country being on Level 2, the number of cases was continuing to rise, as was the rate of hospitalisation and ICU admission.

“Unfortunately the situation continues to evolve and deteriorate nationally,” said Dr Glynn.

The latest daily figures showed 42 new cases in Donegal and 124 in Dublin of the 324 cases reported. Dr Glynn said public health doctors were seeing high numbers of cases in the Derry area and it was not surprising there were cases emerging in Donegal.

Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally last night said it was “beyond sensible but essential” to have “seamless” Covid-19 measures in Donegal and Derry to avoid travel between the counties. He warned of the risk of people in Donegal travelling across the Border to drink indoors .

The chief medical officers in the Republic and Northern Ireland will speak on Friday to draw up a co-ordinated approach to reduce travel between Donegal and Derry.

Meanwhile, the Government’s green list of countries where people in Ireland can travel without having to restrict their movements upon their return, has been updated. From Monday, just four countries – Cyprus, Finland, Latvia and Liechenstein will be on the list with Germany, Iceland, Lithuania and Poland removed.

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