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Don't be fooled by dip - next 10 days are vital to halt Covid in Dublin

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A woman walks past a mural on the Quays in Dublin

A woman walks past a mural on the Quays in Dublin

A woman walks past a mural on the Quays in Dublin

Dubliners were warned last night not to let their guard down in the fight against Covid as the next 10 days are critical.

There remains dangerous levels of the disease in the county despite a slight dip in the spread of the virus.

The warning was issued by Professor Philip Nolan of Maynooth University, who tracks the virus. He said the incidence of the virus continues to be three to four times higher in Dublin than in the rest of the country.

Pattern

"While 14-day incidence and daily incidence have stopped rising in the last few days, it is too early to conclude that there has been any change in the pattern of disease," he warned.

"The reproduction number over the last two weeks remains high at between 1.5 and 1.7."

The R rate signifies how many people are being infected by someone who already has the virus. At present each infected person is passing it to 1.5 to 1.7 others people on average.

"If we are starting to suppress the virus again, it is essential that we maintain this effort: limit our social contacts, limit mixing between households. The next 10 days are critical," said the professor.

Earlier fresh hope had emerged that the Covid-19 outbreak in Dublin may be coming under control.

Dublin's 14-day incidence - the numbers of people are falling ill over a rolling two-week period - has fallen to 136.9 per 100,000 to Monday compared to 138 per 100,000 for the fortnight to Sunday.

It is unclear if the reduction may be a blip or a sign the tide is turning although it will be next week before it is clear if the measures announced last Friday have stabilised the spread of the virus in the capital.

Another two people were reported as dying from the virus yesterday and deaths are again averaging one a day. The number of new cases across the country remained high at 234, of which 103 were in Dublin.

Another 30 are in Donegal, 22 in Galway, 21 in Cork, 13 in Wicklow, 12 in Louth, nine in Kildare, eight in Meath, with the remaining 17 in 10 counties.

Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer said: "The single most important thing that people all across the country need to do now is to reduce their social contacts.

"We all need to cut down on discretionary social activities. Meeting fewer people means fewer opportunities for the virus to transmit. Please prioritise who you choose to meet and try to keep your social network as small as possible."

Dr Una Fallon, director of public health in HSE Midlands, added: "Covid-19 is highly contagious, and people can be infectious without symptoms.

"If you are a close contact of a confirmed case please follow the guidelines on hse.ie and restrict your movements for 14 days - do not go to school or work, do not have visitors to your home, do not go to the shop or pharmacy unless it is absolutely necessary. And, to everyone, I would urge that you reduce the number of people you are in close contact with."

Dr Colm Henry, HSE chief clinical officer said: "Earlier in this pandemic, we succeeded in flattening the curve through a common purpose and solidarity.

"Now we face the more difficult task of suppressing the virus again while trying to protect education and healthcare settings.

Frontline

"Every time you reduce your contacts, avoid a crowd, or choose to meet outdoors, or remember to keep your distance, know that you are a part of the frontline that protects our doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and other staff working hard for us all in the Irish healthcare system."

Prof Nolan said there has been an increase in the number of cases of the virus daily. The national 14-day cumulative incidence was almost at 74 yesterday, up from 71 the previous day. He said the average over the last week was 80 people in hospital with Covid-19 on any given today and 95 were in hospital yesterday.

There are around seven patients with Covid-19 being admitted to hospital a day and nine were admitted in the previous 24 hours. There were 16 patients in intensive care yesterday.

Over the past week, there were 15 people in ICU on any day with one to two admissions daily to intensive care.

Meanwhile, a report from the Mental Health Commission shows that people in mental health facilities during a lot of the pandemic were at the mercy of delays in testing.

They were also left at greater risk of being in dormitory-style accommodation.

John Farrelly, chief executive of the Mental Health Commission, urged all bodies responsible for protecting the most vulnerable members of society from Covid-19 to work together to strengthen a 'fragile' health service and help shield residents of mental health facilities against a second wave of the virus.

The report found a more robust regulatory framework will help protect service users and staff against winter influenza, and any Covid-19 case surges.

"Our society owes our health staff and management a huge debt of gratitude," he said.