Spread of Covid-19 in the State has ‘stabilised’ but is not being suppressed - NPHET

No new deaths and 11 additional cases confirmed in the Republic

Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

 

The spread of Covid-19 in the State has “stabilised” after a recent increase in daily case numbers, but the virus is not currently being suppressed, the acting chief medical officer has said.

Speaking on Monday evening, Dr Ronan Glynn said the incidence of the disease in the Republic is very low at the moment, but that recent concerns over increased cases “haven’t gone away”.

“We were on an upward trajectory, things have stabilised, but our best estimate of the reproduction number… it does appear to still be above one, so as things stand we are not suppressing the disease.”

Emphasising the importance of individuals taking responsibility for their own actions, Dr Glynn: “It was really heartening to see how people responded to the words of caution of the last fortnight.

“We need that to continue and particularly we need that to continue in the next month,” he said, emphasising that schools would reopen and that the lowest prevalence of the disease possible is needed as autumn and winter set in.

“Ultimately, it comes back to each individual doing multiple small things multiple times in a day to protect themselves and their families,” said the acting chief medical officer.

“The trajectory was upwards, and we’ve stabilised, what we want to see now is the trajectory coming back down, and we need to see that over the next week or two,” he said.

Dr Glynn was speaking after the latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), which recorded a further 11 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the State, but no new deaths .

There have now been a total of 1,764 deaths in the State, and 25,892 cases. There are currently ten confirmed cases in hospital, and six in critical care units.

Some 992 deaths relate to cases in nursing homes, with 1,115 deaths having occurred across all residential facilities. Last week, there were 124 Covid-19 cases in the State, compared with 143 the week before.

Over the past two weeks 9 per cent of cases related to travel, 34 per cent were close contacts of a confirmed case and 32 per cent are reported as community transmission.

The Australian experience suggests that ’flu numbers in the State could be less severe this year, because social distancing and masks will suppress it, too, not just coronavirus, he said.

The example of Melbourne, which is now back in lockdown for a second time, illustrates how quickly a stable situation “can deteriorate,” he said: “We have a real opportunity in this country to stay in this really good place, and other countries are not in as fortunate a position.”

Asked about trials of potential vaccine treatments for Covid-19, he said the news emerging currently is positive and several vaccines are now ready to move into the third phase of trials, which will take several months.

“Hopefully out of that we will get a couple of candidates that will show that there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Dr Glynn and Rachel Kenna, the chief nursing officer at the Department of Health, urged people to take up vaccinations against other communicable diseases. “While we wait for a Covid-19 vaccine there are many infectious diseases we currently vaccinate against including measles, rubella, meningitis and HPV.”

Immunisation programmes were paused due to Covid-19. It is important that school children complete their vaccination programmes now that it is safe to do so,” Ms Kenna said.

Dr Siobhán Ni Bhriain, integrated care lead with the Health Service Executive, said “coming into the winter season we strongly recommend that all healthcare workers get the influenza vaccination to protect themselves, families and patients in what will be a challenging winter.”