Covid-19 cases could fall to 200-400 a day by end of February, says Nphet

Deaths will remain ‘for some time to come’ says Nolan after six further fatalities reported

 Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said the rate of decrease in coronavirus case numbers was slowing down, as numbers were boosted by 50-100 a day due to the resumption of testing of close contacts. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said the rate of decrease in coronavirus case numbers was slowing down, as numbers were boosted by 50-100 a day due to the resumption of testing of close contacts. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

Steady progress continues to be made in reducing Covid-19 infections, with case numbers expected to fall to between 200 and 400 a day by the end of the month, public health officials have said.

However, National Public Health Emergency Team members declined to speculate on any opening up of construction or other areas of society, saying it was too early for this to be considered.

A further six deaths of Covid-19 patients were reported by Nphet on Monday. Five of these deaths occurred in February, and one occurred in January.

This brings to 3,687, the total number of deaths in the pandemic.

Those who died ranged in age from 75-95 years and their median age was 84 years.

Officials also reported 829 confirmed cases of the disease.

Of the new cases, 386 were in Dublin, 39 in Meath, 36 in Cork, 35 in Kildare and 32 in Louth, with the remaining 301 cases spread across 20 other counties.

The median age of cases was 35 years and 63 per cent were under 45 years of age.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn, Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Nphet modelling group, and virologist Dr Cillian De Gascun address the press briefing on Monday evening. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn, Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Nphet modelling group, and virologist Dr Cillian De Gascun address the press briefing on Monday evening. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Eleven cases of the variant first identified in South Africa have been identified here, according to Dr Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory at University College Dublin. All of these cases arose from travel and there was no evidence of community transmission.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
286 59

No cases of another variant first identified in Brazil have emerged here, he said.

In relation to a small-scale study appearing to show the AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, Dr Glynn said it was too early to reach any definite conclusion.

A third variant first identified in the UK was important for Ireland as it is dominant here but there are three effective vaccines for it, he said.

Steady progress is being made in reducing case numbers but these will be inflated somewhat over the next week or so due to the resumption of testing of contacts, according to Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Nphet epidemiological modelling advisory group.

The seven-day average number of cases has dropped from 1,200 last Thursday to just under 1,000 on Monday, he said, while hospital numbers are at 60 per cent of the peak level last month.

Deaths of Covid-19 patients remain high, he said, and will continue to stay high “for some time to come”.

The rate of decrease in case numbers is slowing down, as numbers are boosted by 50-100 a day due to the resumption of testing of close contacts.

This is resulting in more detections among under-18s and an increase in the proportion of asymptomatic cases, he said.

Later this week, the HSE will resume offering two tests to contacts of cases, as it did before numbers surged before Christmas, in place of the one currently being offered.

Between 200 and 400 cases a day are still forecast by the end of the month, he added.

Asked about reports of GPs charging for Covid-19 assessments, Dr Glynn said no one should have to pay for an assessment or test for the virus. If this arose, people should “go elsewhere”.

So far this month, there have been 195 deaths, of which 75 were in nursing homes. In January, there were 1,202 deaths, including 451 in nursing homes.

On Monday afternoon, 1,212 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 176 were in ICU. There were 39 additional hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.

The 14-day incidence of the disease now stands at 327 cases per 100,000 people nationally. Monaghan has the highest incidence by county, followed by Carlow. Roscommon has the lowest.

Up to last Friday, 230,776 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered, with 151,212 people having received a first dose and 79,554 receiving a second dose.

Asked about reports of healthcare workers not taking the vaccine, Dr Glynn said no one should feel unduly pressurised to take it, and mandatory vaccination was not proposed.

Just because someone was a healthcare worker did not mean they might not have concerns, he said. People with concerns or seeking more information should talk to their doctor.

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