Covid-19: Kildare restrictions working but ‘need more time’

County’s lockdown extended as cases are ‘still high’, but schools to reopen as planned

Local Covid-19 restrictions implemented in Co Kildare "are working but they need more time", Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said on Friday as the Government extended the county's lockdown by two weeks.

Similar measures in Laois and Offaly have now come to an end, but despite the extension for Kildare, Mr Donnelly said schools in the county would reopen as planned from next week.

Social and movement restrictions were put in place with a view to curbing a spike in cases in the counties that was linked to outbreaks of Covid-19 at a number of food plants.

The Minister said the number of new cases in Laois and Offaly had fallen in the past week, and while the situation in Kildare had stabilised, the number of infections “is still high” and at a rate of about 40 a day.


The acting chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, said he was hopeful that the number of cases in Kildare would begin to decline, but that the county needed "a little bit more time now to turn the corner" and get infections in line with other counties.

“I would be cautiously optimistic that we are going in the right direction,” he said.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Friday night said a further 79 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed and no new deaths had occurred.

A further 20 people in Northern Ireland tested positive for the disease, bringing total cases to 6,576. No further deaths were reported by the North's Department of Health.

National figure

Mr Donnelly told a press briefing at Government Buildings that the total number of cases per 100,000 people stood at almost 200 in Kildare compared with a national figure of 27.

Dr Glynn said Kildare accounted for one third of all cases in the country last week.

The Minister said that the people of Kildare, Laois and Offaly has shown the country that “targeted measures can suppress this virus” and how to “avoid more aggressive restrictions”.

“I know this is difficult news for families, businesses and communities across Kildare but make absolutely no mistake: your efforts are working, your efforts are saving lives and your efforts are preventing the sort of measures being needed that we all lived through earlier this year.”

Dr Glynn said that a high number of new cases continued to be reported daily in Kildare, with infections widely distributed across the country. The seven- and 14-day incidence rates have been at “several multiples of the national average,” he said.

He said there was “cause of cautious optimism” in Kildare given that the rate of unexplained community transmission was not out of line with national levels, and the numbers being treated in hospitals and critical care units remained low.

“This indicates that measures appear to be working, but due to the overall volume of active cases, more time is required to reduce the number of cases in Kildare.”

Mr Donnelly said he was “very aware” of the anxiety of parents with schools reopening, but that a “huge amount of work” has been done to prepare for a safe reopening.

Dr Glynn said that international evidence is that children do not commonly transmit the virus to each other or to adults in schools, and that schools do not drive community transmission.


He said that four key workplace clusters in the county and a number of clusters in direct provision centres “do seem to be largely brought under control”, but the measures were being extended in Kildare to stop the virus spreading more widely into people’s homes.

Asked whether he was worried that the public anger over the flouting of Covid-19 guidelines by Oireachtas members at a golf society dinner in Cliften would undermine requests to adhere to public health advice, Dr Glynn said: "Perhaps I am naive but I am not concerned."

He said “public buy-in” had been at the heart of the pandemic response, and he felt there was an understanding of the importance that people had to protect themselves and their families.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times