Travel to Spain linked to new Covid-19 cases as people urged to wait until vaccinated to travel

Chairman of Nphet’s epidemiological modelling advisory group says Republic tracking towards Nphet’s ‘more pessimistic’ models

Dr Glynn said there have been 626 travel-related cases over the past fortnight, or 8.4 per cent of cases. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Dr Glynn said there have been 626 travel-related cases over the past fortnight, or 8.4 per cent of cases. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Hospital admissions in the State are beginning to rise because the Covid-19 Delta variant is now heading towards “more pessimistic” predictions, National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has said.

In all 783 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded on Wednesday, up from 581 a week ago; while 73 people are in hospital, up from 60, and there are now 20 in ICU, up from 17.

The 14-day incidence rate is now 157 per 100,000, and there were 12 new deaths attributed to coronavirus in June, with a further one reported for this month, the Nphet briefing was told.

Prof Philip Nolan, chairman of Nphet’s epidemiological modelling advisory group, said the country was “in the beginnings” of seeing an increase in Covid-linked hospital admissions.

The number of coronavirus patients has increased “from 45 over the seven days preceding this day two weeks ago to about 50 on average to Wednesday last week and to 60 on average this week,” he said.

The number of admissions daily has risen from “a very stable” six to “eight-nine per day and trending upwards”, Prof Nolan said, while ICU numbers were also ticking upwards.

He rejected charges that many of the Covid ICU patients have been there for a long time. “That’s largely not true. We have 20 people in ICU at the moment. Ten of those were admitted in the past 10 days.

Model scenarios

“Where we typically had two admissions every five days to intensive care, we are now looking at an average of an admission per day. Where this is going into the future isn’t entirely clear.

Growth

“The growth rate now is similar to or perhaps slightly less than the growth rates we saw through August, September and October of last year, but starting from a higher base,” he said.

The number of people aged 19-24 falling ill has seen “a very marked increase”, while Nphet’s best estimate now is that the virus is spreading at a rate of 3.5 per cent per day.

He said while the predictions were pessimistic and at the higher end of where experts believe Delta cases would go, “we don’t expect that to be sustained but it is important to note where we stand right now”.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said Donegal had a much higher number of cases than elsewhere, while there were also high numbers in Louth, Dublin, Sligo and Limerick.

The two areas with the highest seven-day incidence rate were both in Donegal, in Carndonagh and Buncrana, Dr Glynn said, followed by Limerick City North, Ongar in Dublin and Ardee in Co Louth.

Dr Glynn said there have been 626 travel-related cases over the past fortnight, or 8.4 per cent of cases – equal to just one in 10 of all cases where contact tracers could identify the source.

“A significant number of our positive cases over the past fortnight have been in Spain in the previous days. Spain, Britain and Portugal are particular high numbers.”

Symptom profile

He said Delta produced different symptoms. Significant numbers were seeing sore throats, nasal symptoms and headaches, along with fever, cough, shortness of breath or changes in smell or taste.

“Anyone with sore throat, headache, runny nose, blocked nose or sinus should not assume it’s a regular cold. Don’t assume it is hay fever or seasonal. If it’s any way unusual for you, please isolate and get a test.”

Dr Glynn said the global picture was worsening, with cases rising by 10 per cent in a week. In the Netherlands they have jumped by 500 per cent in a week even though 50 per cent of adults were fully vaccinated.