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‘Worrying trends’: Waiting game in play as officials monitor Covid cases

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‘worrying-trends’:-waiting-game-in-play-as-officials-monitor-covid-cases

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The number of people infected with Covid-19 is expected to continue to rise over the coming days with the question of further restrictions in Dublin and other counties to be considered at the end of this week and early next week.

Sources familiar with discussions between public health experts and political decision-makers say Government is in a “waiting game” to see if the number of infections in Dublin stabilises by the middle of next week.

If not, further restrictions are likely to be considered for the capital, they confirm.

The numbers will be monitored closely in several counties over coming days, with Kildare a particular worry it is understood, as officials and Ministers consider the possibility of extending the Level 3 restrictions currently in place in Dublin. Officials say they are particularly concerned about Louth, Waterford, Limerick, Kildare, Leitrim, Donegal, Offaly and Wicklow.

At a Covid-19 briefing at Government Buildings on Monday, assistant secretary general at the Department of Taoiseach Liz Canavan said there were now “worrying trends in most areas”.

Concerns are also rising over the admission rate to hospitals, as even a relatively low number of cases of Covid-19 disrupts normal procedures.

A further 188 confirmed cases of the virus were reported on Monday night by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), 76 of them in Dublin.

This brings to 33,121 the total number of cases linked to the virus in the Republic. No new deaths were reported, leaving the total number of deaths at 1,792.

Of Monday’s cases, 25 are in Cork, 21 in Donegal, 16 in Kildare, 13 in Galway, seven in Roscommon and seven in Waterford, with the remaining 23 cases spread across 12 counties.

Men account for 96 cases and women for 90 – in two cases the data on gender was not included – while 71 per cent are aged under 45 years.

Nineteen cases were identified as community transmission and 36 per cent are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital increased from 79 to 88 from Saturday to Sunday, when 10 new admissions occurred. The number of patients in intensive care remained static at 16.

Public support

As the numbers of people infected grows, public fears about a second wave of coronavirus and support for more stringent restrictions have grown this month, according to public opinion research published by the Department of Health.

Research carried out last week and published on Monday night shows the numbers in favour of further restrictions surpassed those against such a move in recent weeks, rising to more than half (52 per cent) of all respondents to the poll. The numbers of those opposed to more restrictions fell to under a third (29 per cent) – meaning that a significant majority of those who expressed a view favour further restrictions.

There has been a similar movement in recent weeks in the numbers of people who believe the measures introduced by the Government are “insufficient” – it rose from 30 per cent to 39 per cent during the period in question. More than half of people (54 per cent) say the response has been appropriate; only 7 per cent say it has been too extreme. Almost half of respondents (47 per cent) say the worst is “ahead of us”.

Levels of worry in the population are similar to those seen at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in April, the research says.

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