There are signs that the Level 5 lockdown is starting to work, but health chiefs have warned that now is ‘not the time to relax’.
Professor Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET’s epidemiological modelling advisory group, told last night’s Covid health briefing that this was the first time in three months he was able to report positive indicators of the disease.
There were 325 people in hospital, with 15 hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours, and 42 patients in intensive care units.
While the number of new cases is still high, there are positive trends to be seen, according to NPHET.
Prof. Nolan said the data shows the seven-day average daily cases has reduced from around 1,200 last week to 836 as of yesterday.
The 14-day incidence per 100,000 population also peaked around 310 and is now down marginally to 287. ‘So the fact that we’re seeing a decrease in that is an indication that we’re seeing a real decrease in transmission,’ Prof. Nolan said.
In addition, the virus’s reproduction number is now estimated to be close to one which means that it has somewhat stabilised.
Two weeks ago the total number of cases within a week amounted to almost 7,500, while last week it was a little over 7,000. The testing positivity rate is also down from 7.9% at its peak in the last few weeks to 5.3%, but Prof. Nolan said this may not be entirely down to a reduction in the virus.
He said yesterday that data shows Level 3 measures appear to have stabilised but did not reduce the level of Covid transmission, He said they brought the reproduction number down to close to one, ‘stabilising case numbers at whatever case number you’re at, but not reducing case numbers’.
‘And if case numbers are high, it leaves you, as Dublin was left, very vulnerable to a further surge,’ he explained.
Dublin entered Level 3 restrictions on September 18. The entire country was only moved into Level 5 at the start of last week despite NPHET urging the Government to lock the country down two weeks prior to that.
Over the last week, on average there have 330 people in hospital each day with the virus, with 18 admissions on average per day. On average, there have been 40 people in ICUs.
‘We’re seeing decline in incidence and the continued growth in hospitalisation and intensive care admissions, but the growth is slower than it has been in recent weeks,’ Prof. Nolan said.
He continued: ‘Our own experience, and the experience across Europe, shows that when we achieve this sort of suppression, the important thing is to make it last,’ he said, adding that we should take encouragement that the efforts are starting to work.
‘Please take it as a signal to maintain those efforts, this is not the time to relax. This virus will seek out any opportunity we give it to transmit. So let’s not give it that opportunity.’
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said of daily case numbers: ‘The lower that we get, the better the outcome for all of this, and the more value we would get out of this as a society.’
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has rejected claims that schools will be disrupted after a threat of industrial action by a large cohort of secondary school teachers.
The ASTI this week voted in favour of industrial action over Covid-19 safety in schools and equal pay. Micheál Martin said he ‘doesn’t believe’ there will be disruption to schools if a strike goes ahead.
He added that Education Minister Norma Foley had been in ongoing contact with schools and unions with a view to ‘progressing’ the concerns of teachers.
Coronavirus, Lockdown, Ireland
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