Number of Covid-19 cases from outdoor transmission is ‘extremely low’ - HPSC

Nphet briefing told outdoor gatherings have had a positive impact on the instances of infection

Enjoying the weather along the Grand Canal in Portabello, Dublin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill /

Enjoying the weather along the Grand Canal in Portabello, Dublin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill /

 

The number of cases of Covid-19 from outdoor transmission is “extremely low,” the head of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has stated.

Of the 232,164 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the State up to March 24th this year, 262 were as a result of outbreaks related to outdoor transmission, representing justs over 0.1 per cent of the total, or one in a thousand cases.

When questioned about it, Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated that the figure was an underestimation as it did not include individual Covid-19 cases which were as a result of outdoor transmission.

Speaking at the latest briefing of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), Dr Lorraine Doherty, the national clinical director of the HPSC, said it does not have the data related to individual cases from outdoors.

She said there was likely to be a “proportion of cases” of outdoor transmission associated with household settings.

There could be also be infections acquired outdoors which are part of community transmission where the source of the infection is not known.

However, when asked for a figure, she responded: “We don’t have that level of detail in our data yet”.

The only confirmed cases of Covid-19 from outdoor transmission are as a result of 42 outbreaks associated with outdoor gatherings, with one community outbreak accounting for seven cases.

This involved an outdoor work activity which took place between two separate families, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) which monitors case numbers in the Republic.

There were 21 outbreaks on construction sites with 124 cases, and 20 outbreaks associated with sporting activities and fitness in which there were 131 cases.

Dr Doherty said the transmission risks in outdoor settings is definitely lower than it is in indoor settings.

The recent good weather, which saw people congregate outdoors, has been credited with lower than expected Covid-19 numbers in the State with just 309 confirmed cases on Thursday.

Prof Philip Nolan told the Nphet briefing that outdoor gatherings “do seem to us to have had a positive impact on the instances of infection”.

The acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the average number of close contacts remained at 2.6 for weeks on end which he attributed to outdoor gatherings.

“There was a renewed emphasis on asking people to meet outdoors. The good weather facilitated that and allowed us to get to where we are today,” he said.