| 1.5°C Dublin

Code Blue - system to signal severity of Covid-19 outbreaks is in development

Close

A shopper on Grafton Street in front of a shop window selling colourful masks

A shopper on Grafton Street in front of a shop window selling colourful masks

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

A shopper on Grafton Street in front of a shop window selling colourful masks

A colour-coded system for signalling the different stages of Covid-19 outbreaks is being developed by public health experts.

The system for dealing with the virus over the coming months is expected to have four phases: Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red.

Status Blue would mean a vaccine or treatment had been found, while Yellow would mean the rate of infection is stable and we can live with the virus.

In the Yellow phase most businesses would be open as would schools.

An Orange alert would mean significant local outbreaks in communities - rather than in a setting as is the case in the Midland counties currently under lockdown. But such a status would involve restrictions similar to those imposed on the people of Kildare, Offaly and Laois.

The most serious, a status Red outbreak, would see the country going back into lockdown. But another lockdown may not be as severe as the last quarantine due to better understanding of how the virus spreads.

The framework is being developed by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

It comes as a further 35 cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday as well as one more death. It brought the total number of confirmed cases to 26,801 and the death toll to 1,773.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn revealed it would be a week before the impact of the localised lockdown in Kildare, Laois and Offaly will be known.

There has been a coronavirus outbreak on a ward in Naas General Hospital, it was confirmed last night. A hospital spokeswoman said the ward is now closed to new admissions.

Of the cases notified yesterday, 24 are confirmed to be associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case, and five cases have been identified as community transmission.

Isolation

Six cases have been recorded in Carlow, five in Clare, and the remaining 24 of the cases are in Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Meath, Cork, Donegal, Limerick, Tipperary and Wexford.

Dr Glynn said: "The number of confirmed cases notified to us daily is likely to rise and fall this week. It is important to look at the wider trends we see in this disease in Ireland for context, and not simply one day's figures in isolation."

It comes as Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the Government is drafting a long-term plan for living with the Covid-19.

Following a Cabinet sub committee on Covid-19, Mr Martin said the idea is to find a way of keeping society open while dealing with spikes in coronavirus cases.

"The Cabinet committee will meet again next week with a view to having an initial discussion on the medium-term plan to take us through Covid for the next six months to nine months of planning for the next phase of living with Covid-19," the Taoiseach said.

"We've opened up to a considerable degree our economy and our society.

"Like other countries, there's been an increase in numbers so we've got to look and plan ahead in terms of potential scenarios that might emerge but also how we maintain that level of economic activity."

The plan will be developed in line with other EU countries where people are adapting to live with the virus. In Germany and elsewhere schools and pubs have reopened and Covid-19 outbreaks are contained and traced. Government sources insisted Ireland will not be seeking to follow the example of New Zealand where authorities have enforced strict restrictions aimed a eradicating the virus.

It was also agreed the Government will announce financial support this week for business impacted by the localised lockdowns in the Kildare, Offaly and Laois.

The Taoiseach said Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath will work out supports for businesses affected by the midlands lockdown.

Mr Martin said he was concerned at the spike in case in the midlands and the overall rise in new cases across the country. However community transmission of the virus remains stable.

The Taoiseach said ministers also signed off a testing regime for meat-processing factories, direct provision centres and nursing homes.

There will also be systematic testing of workers in meat-processing factories every week to begin with and then every fortnight. A similar testing regime will be introduced for Direct Provision centres and other congregated settings.

Weekly testing of staff in nursing homes will also resume over fears the virus could lead to more tragedy among older people. Mr Martin said he was concerned at congregated settings.