One death and 85 new cases in State ‘shows how quickly Covid-19 can re-emerge’

Dr Ronan Glynn says he is very concerned: ‘we hope this is a blip’ and cases fall tomorrow

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer (left) and professor Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET Irish epidemiological modelling advisory group have warned about a sudden and sharp increase in Covid-19 cases. Photograph: Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer (left) and professor Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET Irish epidemiological modelling advisory group have warned about a sudden and sharp increase in Covid-19 cases. Photograph: Collins

 

There has been a sharp and worrying escalation in the number of new Covid-19 cases in the State, according to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

At its briefing this evening NPHET said 85 new cases of Covid-19, the highest number of new cases in one day since May 22nd, were diagnosed today and it has also been notified of one additional death.

The new cases bring to 26,027 the total of confirmed cases. The new confirmed death – and two previously announced cases which were denotified – means the death toll from Covid-19 in the State since the pandemic began now stands at 1,763.

A factory in Kildare and at least two direct provision centres in the Midlands where some of the workers lived, had created a cluster of infection.

Construction sites were also connected to the sudden increase, health officials said.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: “We are very concerned.”

He said 68 per cent of the new cases were in people under 45 years-of-age

“I hope this is a blip, I hope we see a much smaller number of cases tomorrow,” he said.

He said the factory in Co Kildare had seen 30 to 40 positive cases.

Not all tests have been returned yet.

A total of 18 of Thursday’s tally were associated with this factory which has since been closed.

“We need to watch this extremely closely, we need to see in particular what happens tomorrow and the next day.

“Next week is very far away at this point, we will be monitoring this on the hours,” he said.

“Now is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction. We do understand where the vast majority of these cases have come from. The question now is what happens next.”

Over the last 14 days 331 new cases have been notified.

Dr Glynn said: “Today’s figures demonstrate how quickly Covid-19 can remerge in our country.

“We are now at a crucial point in our response to Covid-19. Over the coming days it is vital that everyone continues to avoid large crowds, physically distance, wear face coverings where appropriate and wash hands regularly.”

At the briefing the public experts also said infection control experts were working with the direct provision centres

A smaller number of cases were associated with the construction industry and others with households and extended families, reporters were told.

“We are now at a crucial point in our response to Covid-19.”

Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: “Over a two-day period Ireland moved from a relatively stable epidemiology to a significant pattern connected to outbreaks.

“We now need to be really careful and adhere to public health advice so we do not further spread the virus.”

He said as of Tuesday models put the R-number in the State at just below one, but there was significant uncertainty around the current estimates, he said.

The HSE said 26 of the new cases are located in Kildare, 18 in Dublin, 11 in Clare, nine in Laois, seven in Limerick, four in Meath and the remainder were spread across seven other counties.

It said 60 per cent of the cases were not associated with close contacts of a confirmed case.

The Republic is following a staged plan for relaxing restrictions designed to limit spread of the disease. But concerns over the rate of new cases prompted a decision to defer some reopenings and at the briefing Dr Glynn said it was too early to say if, as planned, further restrictions would be unwound next week.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said earlier on Thursday that he hoped pubs that do not serve food could reopen for business on August 10th, but there are no guarantees.

Pub lobby groups have called on the Government to release guidelines that will allow them to reopen safely, after their previous reopening date was delayed due to an increase in coronavirus cases earlier this month.

Dr Glynn said it was too early to say when a decision would be taken.

Hospitality group Fáilte Ireland is expected to publish reopening guidelines for pubs in the coming days.

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