Covid-19: Seventy cases in Cork traced to local pubs and restaurants in recent weeks

Further 390 cases reported as Taoiseach warns next two weeks critical

Dr Ronan Glynn, the State’s acting chief medical officer outlined the new figures. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Dr Ronan Glynn, the State’s acting chief medical officer outlined the new figures. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

 

Seventy cases of Covid-19 in Cork have been traced to local pubs and restaurants in recent weeks.

The cases account for 20 per cent of the 350 cases occurring in the county in the past fortnight.

In Galway, a “significant cluster” has been linked to a house party in the city, according to public health officials.

A further 390 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Monday evening. This brings to 35,377 the total number of cases of the virus in the Republic.

No further deaths were reported by Nphet, leaving the total number of deaths in the pandemic at 1,802.

Of the new cases 209 are in Dublin, 27 in Cork and 22 in Donegal. There were also 21 cases in Galway, 14 in Kildare, 14 in Monaghan, seven in Roscommon, seven in Tipperary, seven in Waterford, seven in Wexford, six in Limerick, six in Longford, five in Laois, five in Meath, five in Offaly, five in Sligo, with the remaining 23 cases in eight counties.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the number of new cases continued to be “higher than we would like”, with figures in some counties continuing to rise.

Dublin and Donegal are “still very high” while “it wouldn’t take much for things to go wrong again” in Kildare and Louth, he said.

Dr Glynn acknowledged numbers were beginning to stabilise in Dublin but said it was “too early to say” if this was a definite trend.

He said numbers were rising fast in Cork, Galway, Monaghan and Roscommon and people everywhere needed to take action, reduce their social contacts and keep their distance from others.

Levels of worry in the population have increased further, to levels seen in April, according to research conducted for the Department of Health. More people think the worst of the pandemic is ahead of us, and 54 per cent think there should be more restrictions.

The national incidence of the virus now stands at 88 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. The median age of cases is 32, with 67 per cent involving people under 45 years.

Over the past two weeks, 51 per cent of the 2,160 cases have been in Dublin, 8 per cent in Cork and 7 per cent in Donegal.

Dr Glynn said one single case had led to a series of clusters of 56 others. The index case was a person with symptoms they did not feel were significant, and who did not self-isolate.

The person met friends, leading to 13 other cases. One of these contacts failed to restrict their movement, leading to a further nine cases. Further cases arose within extended families and through sporting activity.

“Now is not the time for big social networks,” he said.

One of the biggest sources of delay in tracing cases was people with symptoms waiting too long to contact their GP, while it also appeared some young people were reluctant to identify contacts as they felt there was “some sort of stigma attached”.

Of 27 deaths in September, seven had no underlying condition and seven were aged under 65, he said.

Speaking at the briefing, Lorna Fitzpatrick, president of the Union of Students in Ireland urged students to keep the public health guidelines in mind when making plans and decisions about where to go and who to see.

‘Very frightening’

A healthcare worker who spent almost 10 weeks in intensive care after contracting Covid-19 spoke at the evening briefing by Nphet and urged people to “be careful” and to take the virus very seriously”.

Jerick Martin, who is in his thirties, says he knows from personal experience “how dangerous this virus is”.

Jerick Martin who was admitted to ICU with Covid-19. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Jerick Martin who was admitted to ICU with Covid-19. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

He says he was a fit and healthy man, enjoying life with his wife and daughter when he was infected. “Within five days of experiencing my first symptoms I was admitted to hospital, where I spent 68 days in intensive care, most of that time on a ventilator, in an induced coma.

Told by his doctor he would be in the induced coma for a few days, he actually woke up two months later. “The impact of that is very frightening and it will have long-lasting effects,” Mr Martin said.

“This disease does not care that you are young, fit and healthy. It does not care that you have a family who love you and who are waiting for you to come home. Anyone can catch it, and anyone can become very sick.”

He said he was grateful to be alive, but would like people to realise the effect that Covid-19 can easily have.

“Being in an induced coma on a ventilator means that you are unconscious and a machine has to breathe for you. I had multi-organ failure, and my family had to cope with me being unable to respond to them, unable to hear them, surrounded by machinery and tubes in a hospital bed.

“My wife says this was a living hell for her. She thought I was going to die, and the hospital had to ring her twice to tell her that I might not live.”

He said he eventually began to recover thanks to the staff in Beaumont Hospital and the prayers of family and friends, and was able to go home.

He had lost three and a half stone in weight, and has diabetes, shortness of breath and hypertension. “I did not have these conditions before. Now, I need an inhaler and I am short of breath going up or down the stairs.

I don’t know what the longer-term effects are going to be. I am asking now for everyone to be careful. Take this virus very seriously.”

North

The North’s department of health reported an additional 220 positive coronavirus cases in its daily bulletin issued on Monday afternoon.

This brings the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the North to 10,949. There were no further deaths from the virus in the North, leaving the death total at 578.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has meanwhile urged younger people in particular to refocus on social distancing and hand-hygiene during what he described as a crucial fortnight to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The Taoiseach said “the next two weeks are going to be critically important” for the State as it tries to stabilise the virus and prevent other counties from being elevated to Level 3 restrictions.

Mr Martin was speaking at the launch on Monday of a new leaflet on Covid-19 which is being delivered to every household in the country. It emphasises the threat posed by a resurgence of coronavirus and also reminds households of the best protocols to follow.

“The launch of this leaflet, a copy of which will be sent to every home in the country, is an important moment. It is an opportunity to remind the country of the choice we face for the coming winter. Each one of us has the power to slow and suppress the spread of this virus - it is up to each one of us to choose what we are going to do in the face of the threat,” he said.

He asked young people in particular to stick to the advice on hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing and to “respect the restrictions that are in place where we live”.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin launching the National Framework for Living with Covid-19 Information Leaflet with An Post CEO David Redmond and employees Laura Fitzsimons and Keith Lally outside the GPO, Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire
Taoiseach Micheal Martin launching the National Framework for Living with Covid-19 Information Leaflet with An Post CEO David Redmond and employees Laura Fitzsimons and Keith Lally outside the GPO, Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Mr Martin continued: “This is a dangerous and deadly virus that kills. Many of those that it doesn’t kill, it leaves seriously ill, regardless of age.

“Every citizen in the country has the power to change the trajectory of this illness. I believe it is very important to ensure that they are as fully informed as possible.

“I would encourage every household to treat this document as they would treat any other important piece of literature that comes into their home. Keep it safe and keep it close to hand,’ he said.