House parties are being held ‘with abandon’, Holohan warns

‘Unseen activity’ in ordinary houses is a ‘real concern’ to health officials

Dr Tony Holohan and Professor Philip Nolan have spoken about the current Covid-19 situation at the daily National Public Health Emergency Team press conference. Video: RTE News Now

 

House parties are being organised “with abandon, as though we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic”, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has said.

There were good public health reasons for “these things” not to happen at present, he stressed, adding that indoor activities would be permitted in later phases of the Government’s roadmap.

Warning people against organising such indoor gatherings, he said those who were thinking of voluntarily attending had a choice - “you can choose not to”.

It was important as restrictions were eased that people learned to recognise the conditions that could lead to the spread of Covid-19, he said.

“When you’re out and about, or attending things, to recognise what a crowded space looks like. And if it’s crowded, or it doesn’t accord to the public health advice, stay away.”

Dr Holohan said there had been a lot of focus on activity on beaches and railway platforms but it was the “unseen activity” in ordinary houses that was the “real concern”.

In general, though the public had “stayed with us” on the public health advice.

A further five deaths of people diagnosed with Covid-19 have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). This bring to 1,664 the total number of deaths in the Republic.

NPHET also reported another 38 new cases of the disease at its briefing on Thursday. This brings the total number of cases to 25,142.

Meanwhile, the reproduction number, a measure of how many people a confirmed case, goes on to infect, has risen to between 0.4 and 0.7, officials told the briefing.

“The easing of restrictions in phase one has not negatively impacted the R-number, in no small part thanks to the collective behaviours of our population in preventing resurgence of the disease,” said Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET epidemiological modelling advisory group.

The average number of new cases each day last week was 48, compared to 559 in mid-April, and deaths were down to three a day on average, from 33 at the height of the pandemic.

With such low prevalence, it was difficult to estimate how the disease was spreading in the population, he said, but the group was confident the reproduction number was significantly below 1.

This number may have been marginally higher this week than in the previous one, he said.

Asked about case data for minority ethnic groups, officials said the HSE was planning on collecting this information in the coming weeks.

There was no change overnight in the number of clusters of the disease in residential care facilities (472 in total) or nursing homes (258).

An additional 22 cases in residential care facilities were reported, including 14 in nursing homes.

Residential care facilities now account for 63.5 per cent of all deaths, and nursing homes for 55.5 per cent.

A total of 8,018 healthcare workers have been infected, 31.6 per cent of all cases. Seven have died; this figure is unchanged from last week.

Of those with Covid-19 who have died, 90.2 per cent had an underlying condition. Some 822 were male and 842 were female.

The median age of deaths was 84 years and the mean was 81.

A total of 410 people with the disease have been admitted to intensive care, of which 36 remain there. There was no increase in ICU admissions over the past 24 hours. There are currently 144 people diagnosed with the virus in hospital.