Many with Covid-19 symptoms not self-isolating, says NPHET, as 38 cases confirmed
Glynn stresses importance of quarantining after GPs’ survey shows lack of compliance
Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn: ‘The importance of isolating as soon as you have any flu like symptoms cannot be overstated’. Photograph: Colin Keegan
People who do not self-isolate after developing Covid-19 symptoms are putting others at risk, the acting chief medical officer has warned, after a survey showed the majority of patients who contacted GPs in the past week had not done so.
Dr Ronan Glynn made the comments as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) reported a further 38 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the State. This brings to 26,065 the total number of cases that have been confirmed in the Republic.
No further deaths from Covid-19 were reported on Friday. There have been a total of 1,763 coronavirus-related deaths in the Republic.
NPHET’s statement said a survey of GPs had indicated that the vast majority of patients who had contacted them with Covid-like symptoms in the past week had not been self-isolating since the onset of their symptoms.
Dr Glynn said: “The importance of isolating as soon as you have any flu-like symptoms cannot be overstated. Without this individual action we simply will not break the chains of transmission and we will put many people at risk of infection.
“It is important that people know that there is no charge for GP or testing services relating to Covid-19. Please do not hesitate to contact your GP if you have any concerns.”
Over the past two days a total of 123 cases have been reported, which Dr Glynn said was “a reminder to us all to double down efforts as we head into this weekend”.
Of those, 84 cases were linked to known outbreaks or are close contacts of other confirmed cases, while at least 19 cases have been identified as community transmission.
More than one-fifth of the 85 newly confirmed cases on Thursday were among workers at Irish Dog Foods in Naas. The factory, which employs about 200 people, closed a week ago for a deep clean while workers who tested positive were ordered to self-isolate.
Overall, 44 of the cases were in Kildare, 33 in Dublin, 11 in Clare, 10 in Laois, eight in Limerick and the remaining 17 were across 10 counties.
The median age of Friday’s cases was 30 years of age, with 82 per cent of the 38 being under 45.
Dr Glynn said “mass testing has now taken place in relation to a number of known outbreaks.
“We may be beginning to see more cases which we cannot link to outbreaks or close contacts. The National Public Health Emergency Team will continue to monitor this situation closely over the coming days.”
Earlier, Dr Glynn said the focus on international travel had distracted from community efforts in Ireland to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said there was a risk that debate about Irish people going on foreign holidays could detract from the “core message” of each individual having power to control the spread of the virus.
He urged members of the public to follow six key pieces of advice as the bank holiday weekend approaches; maintain social distance, stay outdoors when meeting people as much as possible, limit the time spent meeting them, wash hands, wear face masks and download the Covid-19 tracker app.
Dr Glynn said a minority of cases detected in the Republic were linked to international travel, including just two of 85 cases reported on Thursday.
“Ultimately what will dictate the course of the infection over the coming week, two weeks or in the coming months is the actions of each and every person in our communities across the country,” he remarked.
Dr Glynn said the 85 new cases reported on Thursday – the highest daily number in two months – was not the time for “a knee-jerk reaction”.
While not surprised by the number, as Covid-19 was a highly infectious virus, Dr Glynn said he was hopeful that the figures were the sign of “a blip” rather than signalling a more worrying trend.
“We’re hopeful that what we are seeing in fact is evidence that our contact tracing system is working really, really well,” said Dr Glynn.
He added: “The aim of that system is to detect the cases in clusters very rapidly and to break the chains of transmission.”
Dr Glynn acknowledged that there was a higher risk of infection in any place where people were living together but he understood that all the measures were being taken to restrict the spread of the virus.
“Even if people are doing the right thing, there will be times when this spreads quickly, particularly when people are working in close proximity to each other,” he observed.
He advised the public that further clusters can be expected in various settings including workplaces, direct provision centres and family households.
“The challenge for all of us is to identify them quickly to clamp down on them but to do that we need people to come forward quickly to say they’ve got the symptoms,” said Dr Glynn.
He said it was important for people to remember that they do not have to be sick to transmit the virus to others.
“We have to assume that everybody we meet is potentially at risk of infecting others and we have to act appropriately.”