Covid-19: Holohan notes ‘downward trend’ as 322 cases and five deaths reported

Positivity rate for tests falls to 4.8 per cent having reached 7.3 per cent on October 20th

The positivity rate for tests carried out also continues to improve, down to 4.8 per cent today from a high of 7.3 per cent on October 20th.  File photograph: The Irish Times.

The positivity rate for tests carried out also continues to improve, down to 4.8 per cent today from a high of 7.3 per cent on October 20th. File photograph: The Irish Times.

 

Maintaining the downward trend in Covid-19 cases is “crucial”, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has said, after the lowest daily case figures in over five weeks was reported.

The 322 new cases of the virus reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Tuesday is the lowest daily figure since September 26th. It brings the total number of cases in the Republic to 63,048.

A further five deaths of people with the virus were reported, bringing to 1,922 the total number of Covid-19 deaths in Ireland.

Of the new cases, just 96 are in Dublin, a trend that will be welcomed by public health officials. On Monday, when over 300 cases were reported in the capital, Dr Holohan expressed concern about “stubbornly” high figures in Dublin.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said “good progress” was being made “thanks to an enormous collective effort”.

Over the seven days to Monday, there were 4,337 new cases against 6,518 over the previous seven days, he pointed out. “Let’s ensure we maintain this downward trend.”

On Tuesday, there were also 35 cases in Meath, 23 in Cork, 17 in Louth, 16 in Waterford and the remaining 135 cases are spread across 18 other counties.

The median age of cases is 37 years and 64 per cent are under 45 years.

At 2pm on Tuesday , there were 296 Covid-19 patients in hospital, including 42 in ICU. There were 14 new hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.

Dr Holohan said “improvements with Covid-19” were being seen thanks to the efforts of people across Ireland but maintaining the downward trend was “the most crucial thing”.

“The value of our progress depends on continuing the safe behaviour that got us to this position. I urge everyone to keep it up, to ensure these initial trends continue.”

The 14-day national incidence of the disease has fallen to 228 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Department of Health. Cavan has the highest incidence at 475.2, followed by Meath at 380.4. Leitrim has the lowest incidence, at 84.3.

Hospital and ICU trends are improving. The number of hospitalised patients, at 297, is down from a high of 354 just over a week ago.

The 42 virus patients in intensive care on Tuesday is two down two on the previous day’s figure.

The positivity rate of tests also continues to improve, down to 4.8 on Tuesday from a high of 7.3 per cent on October 20th. Some 11,067 tests were completed in the past 24 hours, and 88,143 in the past week, according to the Department of Health.

However, the proportion of cases linked to community transmission has risen to 31 per cent, from a low of 27 per cent in mid-October. This indicates there are more cases in the community whose origin is unknown.

Ireland has the 11th lowest incidence of Covid-19, and the 10th lowest death rate from the disease, out of 31 countries monitored by the European Centre of Disease Control, latest figures show.

Earlier, infectious diseases consultant Dr Paddy Mallon criticised the lack of policies directed at maintaining progress in suppressing Covid-19.

There was an opportunity, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, when cases were low during the summer to introduce policies to keep the numbers down and this had not happened.

Dr Mallon said that while the testing system was good, efforts in contact tracing needed to improve, specifically when it came to offering insight into where cases were coming from.

“Isolation is the key, it is how to stop the virus in its tracks, there is a lot more that could be done. We need to get this virus under control, get numbers down and keep them low.”

Long-term effects

Dr Mallon also expressed concern about the growing numbers of patients he is seeing with long-term after effects having had Covid-19. Patients who had not been hospitalised, who were aged from 20s to 50s, were in good health, but were now struggling to recover

“That is a real concern. We can’t afford to live with the virus. We need to get this virus under control and keep it low.”

Meanwhile, Dr Holohan has told the Oireachtas transport committee there is a “substantial risk associated with international travel” at the moment.

He said Irish experts believe that if testing of passengers is introduced, it would still be “efficient” to mandate a five-to-seven day period of restricted movement, with a symptom check on day five.

However, Dr Holohan warned this approach can still miss up to 15 per cent of imported cases.