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Dubs may be flattening curve but country is hit with new restrictions

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Members of the public wearing face masks on Henry Street yesterday

Members of the public wearing face masks on Henry Street yesterday

Members of the public wearing face masks on Henry Street yesterday

There are now "some signs" Dublin may be flattening the rise in Covid-19 after nearly two weeks of lockdown, despite 170 new cases confirmed in the capital yesterday.

The overall 14-day incidence rate in Dublin also rose to 159.3 per 100,000.

However, experts look behind the figures for other trends in the spread of the virus, according to HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry.

Another four people died from the virus yesterday and a further 442 tested positive.

The cases included: 170 cases in Dublin, 47 in Cork, 28 in Donegal, 23 in Meath, 21 in Galway, 20 in Monaghan, 14 in Clare, 12 in Roscommon, 11 in Laois, 11 in Longford, 10 in Cavan, 10 in Limerick, 10 in Tipperary, 9 in Kildare, 8 in Wicklow, 5 in Louth and 5 in Wexford.

The remaining cases were in nine other counties.

One person who was positive for Covid-19 ended up infecting 60 other people as part of a chain of transmission, it emerged yesterday.

The case was cited as a real-life episode where the virus has passed on through a series of every-day encounters in which the infection spread due to failure to adhere to anti-Covid rules.

Dr Una Fallon, a public health specialist in the Midlands, told a HSE briefing yesterday she could not go into the details of the case.

However, it is another example of how failure to reduce contacts and observe rules on physical distancing and mask wearing had led to a worrying resurgence in the virus.

Ms Fallon highlighted another instance where Covid-19 virus appears to have spread in a school between two children who used to swap desks because one needed to be nearer the blackboard.

She was outlining how her teams work to track down the route of transmission of the virus and work to prevent others getting infected.

Funeral

Two members of one family who were infected attended a relative's funeral, which led to five more people catching the virus.

This was followed by a meal in a restaurant where one third of staff were absent due to being close contacts.

In the case involving the school children, the first pupil was infected within their family but the second child who tested positive was a mystery because there was no evidence of a connection between the two.

However, a teacher provided the clue when they said the children swapped desks during one class so that one of the child was nearer the blackboard.

The virus may have been passed on through an infected surface on the desk.

Earlier, HSE chief Paul Reid said that the hospital system is under pressure but not overwhelmed, despite the rise in admissions among people with the virus.

There were 121 Covid-19 patients in hospital across the country yesterday and 22 people are in intensive care.

Dublin hospitals are worst hit and have 65pc of all patients.

In a statement last night, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said it noted a further deterioration from last week.

The five-day average for cases is now 412 and 18 counties have an increased incidence rate when compared with last week.

The reproduction number is estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.4, with the growth rate in cases between 4-5pc a day.

Nphet noted a particular concern in relation to trends in indicators of disease severity.

While there continues to be a number of counties with particularly high incidence, Nphet's main concern now is the overall national picture.

Given the disease profile, Nphet recommended no more than two households should meet at any given time.

People should only have a maximum of six visitors from one other household to their home.

People can continue to meet socially in other settings, but only with people from one other household.

Nphet have also advised that Government extend the Level 2 measures currently in place for a further period of three weeks, with Donegal and Dublin remaining at Level 3.

However, it said it would continue to monitor this situation closely.

Visitors

Asked to comment on yesterday's decision by Nphet, Professor Sam McConkey, infectious disease specialist in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, said the request for people to restrict visitors to their home to no more than six people from one household was key to reducing the spread of the virus.

"If everyone followed what they say we would be fine," he said.

There are people who are not sticking to the one household.

He referred to the case highlighted in the west where 30 people ended up being infected after a couple returned from a holiday break and continued to socialise over one weekend.

"The challenge now is to get everyone to follow the guidelines," he told the Herald.

However, he said if this does not work Nphet will have to look at escalating restrictions in a week or two.

He said it takes a week or two for restrictions to work.

"I think the strategy of the Government right now is to try to keep schools and businesses open as far as possible.

"They quite rightly want the economy open for the most part.

"That is what they are trying to do as much as possible while still controlling the virus.

"The problem is we have not really controlled it yet. It is still rising - and that is the sad thing."