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Dubs told to 'stay home' as cases spiral to 430 - half in the capital

Expert's plea as fears grow crisis is getting out of control

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Dr Ronan Glynn

Dr Ronan Glynn

Colin Keegan

Dr Ronan Glynn

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn has urged Dubliners to work from home where possible this week in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

His plea came as the number of cases rose to 430 yesterday, of which 212 were reported in Dublin.

"As we start into this new week, I am asking every household across the country to sit together this evening and make a plan to reduce the number of people you meet this week," he said.

"We have absolutely no room for complacency. If every person, family, workplace and organisation does not play their part, the situation will continue to deteriorate."

Essential

He said that for people who live in Dublin and Donegal, "remember government advice is to work from home unless it is essential to attend in person".

"For people living in these and all other counties, assume that Covid-19 is circulating in your community and act accordingly," Dr Glynn said.

Seventy-two per cent of the cases yesterday were in people under 45.

While no new deaths were reported by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) yesterday, five were reported on Saturday, along with 248 new cases.

HSE chief Paul Reid yesterday issued a "call to arms" for everyone to follow the expert advice, with 18 people being treated in intensive care units (ICU).

"We've now 110 Covid-19 hospital cases, 18 in ICU. Although lower than our worst peak, the impact on our hospitals is as significant, as we're now trying to keep all of our other services too," Mr Reid said.

"This is a call to arms to everyone to get right behind all we ask."

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly urged people to reduce their contacts in a bid to push down the reproduction 'R' number, which refers to the number of people that one infected person will pass on the virus to on average.

"Right now, it's about 1.5, 1.6, and what the public health doctors are saying is, think about the people you were planning on meeting over the next week or two and halve that number," Mr Donnelly said yesterday on This Week on RTE One.

"If we all do that - it's not always possible, but if we do that - if we all reduce our contacts, then we will get this R number down and we will push this virus back.

"What everybody wants is to get every part of this country back down to Level 1 as quickly as possible and keep everybody there.

"The whole point of the road map is to target the virus where we know it spreads in order to keep the country open, to keep the schools open, protect the health services, protect jobs.

"The evidence we have is that the vast majority of people are following the guidelines the vast majority of the time.

"There are cases where that is not happening.

"We have seen a few cases in terms of house parties happening or bigger gatherings than are allowed, but it's not the norm, and in a world of social media every single one of these transgressions of course gets shared and we can see it all."

Speaking about Dublin, which is in its second week of Level 3 restrictions, which are due to last until Friday, October 9, he said it is "early days" in terms of knowing whether they are working.

The minister said he had been discussing the issue with Dr Glynn over the weekend.

"We will be cautiously optimistic as we must always be, but it is very early days," Mr Donnelly said.

In relation to the threat of other counties joining Dublin and Donegal at Level 3, he said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) looks at a variety of measures, including the 14-day and seven-day infection rate, but also where the cases are coming from.

Contained

"Are the cases rising quickly or is it a contained outbreak? There are currently no plans for Nphet to call an emergency meeting this week," he said.

"They meet every Thursday, and that may change, but right now, they have no plans to meet before then."

He said four counties are being looked at carefully - Cork, Galway, Louth and Wicklow.

Meanwhile, in relation to a shortage of hospital beds as the health services gears up for an increase in admissions this winter, Mr Donnelly said the HSE is negotiating with each private hospital.