Ireland making 'sustained progress' in suppressing Covid, Nphet says

ireland
Professor Philip Nolan during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images
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Tomas Doherty

Ireland is seeing a rapid reduction in coronavirus case counts and numbers in hospital, public health doctors have said.

The Covid-19 case tally is falling approximately 3 per cent a day in the Republic, Prof Philip Nolan said at a press briefing.

He said: “We are seeing sustained progress in suppressing transmission, perhaps even accelerated progress in suppression.”

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) announced a further 437 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Monday, while no further deaths were reported.

Prof Nolan added: “We are at a case count a little under 500 cases per day. That remains very high but it is very significant progress from a week ago.”

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Dr Cliona Murphy, chairwoman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said there was no evidence that taking any of the vaccines affected a woman’s ability to conceive.

There is emerging research showing an effect on men’s fertility in the period after he has suffered an infection, she added.

Prof Nolan warned of the danger of the disease bouncing back if people let down their guards.

“We need to be immensely careful that the level we have succeeded in getting Covid-19 to does not turn around and bite us.”

The latest figures show 418 Covid-19 patients are in hospital, with 103 in intensive care.

Longford has the highest incidence rate in the country at 399 cases per 100,000, followed by Offaly at 344 and Westmeath at 264.

More than 360,000 people in the Republic have now received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.

A total of 513,322 vaccines were administered up to March 5th – 363,601 first doses and 149,721 second doses.

More than 90,000 people aged over 70 (Cohort 3 in the vaccine priority list) have received their first dose.

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Up to 84,000 vaccines are to be delivered this week, with some 37,000 over-70s to receive their first dose of the vaccine.

Around 10,000 people with underlying conditions aged between 16 and 69 will also receive their first dose this week.

The Cohort 4 group includes people aged 16 to 69 with a medical condition that puts them at very high risk of severe disease and death.

Meanwhile, the deputy chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has said the number of cases of Covid-19 in long-term residential care settings has decreased rapidly over recent weeks.

The public health doctor said the number of cases dropped more than he expected, given the level of disease in the community.

In a letter to the Department of Health sent last week, Dr Glynn said the epidemiological situation in Ireland was improving but remained “very finely balanced”.

Nphet said that while indicators of mobility across the population were low, they continued to drift upwards.

“This is a cause for concern,” Dr Glynn said.

“While we are seeing continued, slower yet constant progress against all indicators of the disease, incidence remains high. Community test positivity remains high but appears to be reducing,” he said.

“The number of cases in long-term residential care settings has decreased rapidly over weeks, more so than would have been expected given the level of disease in the community.

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Number of Covid cases in care homes ‘decreased rap...
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“Deaths associated with these outbreaks in these settings also appear to be decreasing, with trends supporting the emerging evidence of the protective effect of vaccination.”

Dr Glynn said there had been some recent increase in the average number of close contacts per adult confirmed case, but that it remained stable at 2.6.

“We are maintaining a steady suppression of transmission,” he added.

There were 715 people who died from Covid-19 in February. This is compared to 1,314 deaths in January and 196 deaths in December. – Additional reporting: PA

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