There have been 254 more cases and three further deaths confirmed, according to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). Of these cases 136 are in Dublin.
“I am more concerned than at any point in time since late April,” chair of NPHET’s epidemiological modelling advisory group, Prof Philip Nolan told a press briefing on Wednesday.
He said the figures were of “considerable concern”. He said the reproduction number was 1.3-1.7 nationally and case numbers are likely to double every 10-14 days if people do not work to break chains of tranmission.
“If we do not interrupt transmission now, bring the r-number back to below 1, modelling shows that we could have 500 -1,000 cases per day by the 16th of October, 50-60 per cent of which would be in Dublin.” However, he said the incidences were growing at broadly the same rate across the whole country.
Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer, said “The current situation has deteriorated both in Dublin and nationally over the past week. Along with Dublin we have seen particularly concerning trends in Louth, Waterford and Donegal. It is now absolutely essential that people action public health advice and act as if they or those close to them are potentially infectious.”
Of the cases notified today 115 are men, 133 are women and 65 per cent are under 45 years of age. It said 61 per cent are confirmed to be associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case while 24 cases have been identified as community transmission
Aside from Dublin, which made up more than half of cases, there were 20 in Donegal, 13 in Louth, 12 in Wicklow, 9 in Waterford, 7 Carlow, 7 in Cork, 6 in Galway, 5 in Kerry, 5 in Wexford and the remaining 28 cases are located in Clare, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon and Westmeath.
Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer with the HSE, said; “There are currently 73 Covid-19 patients in hospital, nine of these have been admitted in the past 24 hours. Fourteen of these patients are in ICU. We are seeing a sharp increase in rate of admissions of Covid-19 patients into our acute hospitals. We know that without a reversal of these trends, admissions can escalate rapidly to the point where our healthcare facilities will be under unsustainable pressure. It is more essential than ever that we all adhere to the basic measures which can weaken the virus in the community.”
Dr Mary Favier, Covid-19 advisor to the Irish College of General Practitioners, said: “While we have been conducting a large number of tests on children, thanks to the vigilance of parents around symptoms and contacting GP’s with concerns, we have not witnessed a disproportionate rise in the number of confirmed cases in children.”
Figures are being watched closely in the capital. Earlier on Wednesday, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said there is a “strong” and “very real” possibility that Dublin will be moved to level three in the Government’s plans for coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.
This would mean more severe restrictions for the capital, where there is concern about the increased spread of the disease in recent weeks. Latest figures show that incidence of the disease in the capital is running at about twice the national average.
The figures prompted Dr Glynn to warn the Government last week that the capital had become a “disease reservoir” which could put the whole State at risk.
In a letter written last week, but released today, Dr Glynn suggested that if left unchecked cases could rise in the capital to up to 300 per day by the end of September.
In his advice to Government last week, Dr Glynn said Covid-19 infections in Dublin have the “potential to transmit widely and quickly both within Dublin and to other areas of the country”.
However, he stopped short of suggesting that Dublin should move to Level 3 of the Government’s five-level Living with Covid-19 plan as has been suggested by some members of the Cabinet. The county was put at Level 2 yesterday but with some additional restrictions added on.
He said this was because most cases in Dublin were concentrated in young people, meaning the rates of hospitalisations are low and deaths have stabilised.
Dublin remains at Level 2, along with the rest of the State, on the Government’s five point Covid-19 scale but extra restrictions have been announced and the expectation is that the county could be moved to Level 3 next week.
Mr Donohoe said people living in Dublin who are considering going on holidays elsewhere in the State should reschedule and that those from the county planning to have or attend weddings outside the capital should reconsider this.
His colleague, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, said there has not been an instruction for the public not to visit Dublin, but that people should avoid doing so unless it is necessary.
Level 2 limits the number of visitors allowed in a home to six people from two or three other households, up to 15 people can meet outdoors from up to three households, outdoor sports training is permitted for up to 15 people (except for professional teams) and up to 100 people can watch sports events outdoors and 50 people indoors.
Level 3 limits visitors to a home or garden to people from one other household, travel is restricted to your county or region apart from for work, education or essential reasons, attendances at weddings is reduced from 50 to 25, no indoor gatherings (including meetings, theatres, cinemas, arts venues) are permitted, only individual indoor sports training is permitted and visits to long-term residential care facilities, including nursing homes, are suspended.