Early exit from Level 5 ‘unlikely’ as State reports 552 Covid-19 cases

Decline in recent cases down to impact of restraints, says health expert Dr Cillian De Gascun

The National Public Health Emergency Team reported a further 552 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, as one of its members warned any early exit from lockdown appears unlikely.

There have now been a total of 62,002 coronavirus infections in the Republic.

Two further deaths were reported, bringing the total to 1,915.

Validation of data at the HPSC has resulted in the denotification of six confirmed cases and the total case number of 62,002 confirmed cases reflects that fact.

READ MORE

Of the new cases confirmed, 63 per cent were among people under 45 years of age, with 36 the median age; 275 were men and 275 were women.

Some 173 cases were located in Dublin, followed by 86 in Cork, 40 in Limerick and 30 in Donegal. The remaining 223 cases were spread across all other counties.

As of 2pm on Sunday, 330 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 47 are in intensive care. There have been 17 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population across the State stands at 253.5. Cavan has a 14-day incidence rate of 590.7 while Leitrim’s incidence rate is 106.1.

The lowest national 14-day incidence rate was on July 3rd when the rate was 2.98 cases per 100,000 population.

There were 19 coronavirus deaths recorded in Northern Ireland over the weekend, according to the latest figures from the North's Department of Finance.

The department reported 11 deaths on Saturday and eight on Sunday, taking the Covid-19 death toll past the 700 mark to 716.

Northern Ireland also is seeing a gradual drop in the number of Covid cases.

The department recorded 649 virus cases on Saturday and 685 on Sunday, bringing the total to 39,116. This compares with 896 cases on the previous Sunday and 923 on the previous Saturday.

There were 5,145 positive cases reported in the past seven days.

There are now 361 patients in Northern Ireland hospitals receiving coronavirus treatment with 48 in intensive care units and 41 of them on ventilators.

Mid Ulster with 449 cases experienced the highest number of cases per 100,000 of population over seven days. It was followed by Derry and Strabane with 354 cases per 100,000 and Belfast with 334 cases.

The number of cases per 100,000 over the past week in the whole of Northern Ireland was 273.

Meanwhile, chairman of the National Public Health Emergency Team's Covid-19 expert advisory group, Dr Cillian De Gascun, has warned that any early exit from Level 5 restrictions appears unlikely.

He said while the number of daily confirmed cases had fallen significantly in recent days they were still much higher than during the summer and this would lead to more hospital admissions and deaths in the weeks ahead.

He stressed that the decline in cases currently being recorded was most likely attributed to enhanced Level 3 restrictions and he added that the move to Level 5 was essential to bring the numbers down further.

He said generally after restrictions are introduced it took between 10 and 14 days for an impact to be felt.

“What we have seen is the decline in cases probably started as a result of enhanced level three restrictions,” he said .

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 at lunchtime he said "we won't have seen the full impact of Level 5 yet, but it's likely what we saw as a result of the national Level 3 and then the localised Level 4 up around the Border started to have an impact".

He said Level 3 restrictions in isolation could bring the R number – or the rate the virus is reproducing – to one, but that would still see many hundreds of new cases a day.

He added while Level 3 measures were starting to work it would not suppress the illness and would stablise it at the current level.

“We have a six-week programme to get to as low as possible,” he said, adding that the aim was to get the case numbers and rate of reproduction down as low as possible in December to ensure the benefit of the restrictions was felt for the longest possible time subsequently,

Earlier, HSE chief executive Paul Reid cautioned against complacency, saying it was too early to say a corner had been turned.

He noted a significant drop in demand for testing which was attributed to a fall in the number of confirmed cases, the positivity rate and the number of close contacts from six to under three.

Mr Reid said there had been 100,000 tests carried out last week, 20,000 less than the current capacity.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times