Covid-19: ‘Cause for concern’ as hospital admissions plateau

ireland
Covid-19: ‘Cause For Concern’ As Hospital Admissions Plateau
Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, speaking during a Covid-19 briefing at the Department of Health, in Dublin. Photo: PA
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By Michael McHugh, PA

The number of contacts of confirmed new cases of Covid-19 is “drifting upwards”, a senior public health official has warned.

The reproductive rate of the coronavirus remains below 1.

A third of contacts in a household subsequently tested positive, Prof Philip Nolan added.

The decline in cases is now slowing down after weeks of lockdown, public health experts said.

The proportion of cases in highly-populated Dublin has increased as the more virulent UK variant dominates new infections.

The test positivity rate and hospital admissions are “plateauing”, Prof Nolan added.

He said: “That is giving us some cause for concern.”

The health service was notified on Thursday of a further 47 deaths related to Covid-19.

Another 901 cases were confirmed.

Prof Nolan said people had adhered to the public health guidance and case numbers have declined since the middle of January.

“We are maintaining suppression but it is precarious,” he added.

The reproductive rate of the virus is at between .65 and .85.

The expert said: “There has been some drift upwards in contacts.”

The modelled number of cases has been revised upwards for the coming weeks.

Prof Nolan urged: “Resist that tendency to mix more. It remains a dangerous thing to do.

“We have a fundamental concern that while we continue to suppress transmission, disease levels are still very high.

“We need to bring them down further. The rate of decline is slowing.”

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said he did not want to see people returning to workplaces or increased household mixing.

He said: “It really is phenomenal to see the levels of compliance we have seen maintained since the end of the year.

“We continue to be enthused or gratified to see the response of the general public and their willingness to stick to it.”

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Prof Nolan said the number of deaths had finally started to ease off.

The authorities have recorded 35 newly-confirmed deaths per day over the last seven days.

Prof Nolan added: “We are coming towards the end of the wave of mortality.”

Schools reopening

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the reopening of schools will be on a phased basis and likely start from March 1st.

Mr Martin said the “indications” are that it will likely be at the beginning of March during a radio interview on Thursday morning.

But Leo Varadkar said the date has not yet been formally approved by public health officials.

“If we have learned anything from the pandemic in the past year, it is that nobody can give a guarantee or offer absolute certainty,” Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.

Northern Ireland’s lockdown has been extended to April, but some primary school pupils will return to class on March 8th.

Ireland
School reopenings likely to begin March 1st, Taois...
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The Stormont Executive is expected to keep the current restrictions in place until April 1st. They had been due to lapse on March 5th.

Primary school pupils in year groups P1 to P3 will return to face-to-face learning on March 8th.

On March 22nd, secondary pupils in key exam years – year groups 12 to 14 – will return to school.

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