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Worst day of virus cases yet as 'it's clear disease is not under control'

Up to 2,500 infections a day expected by end of the month

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Prof Philip Nolan

Prof Philip Nolan

Colin Keegan

Prof Philip Nolan

The deadly Covid-19 virus is spiralling out of control and spreading so fast that by the end of the month up to 2,500 people may be infected every day.

The growing crisis was laid bare by Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, who said he was "gravely concerned" at the rise as three more pat-ients died and 1,205 people caught the disease - the highest in a single day since the pandemic began.

There is growing alarm about the increasing number of pat-ients with the virus being admitted to hospitals, several of which are already cancelling procedures and resorting to surge capacity to cope.

Hospitals are treating 241 patients for the virus - a jump of 24 in the space of a day - and 29 are in intensive care.

While some people are acting as if the virus has gone away, the majority are trying to follow rules but are still meeting too many others from outside their household and giving the virus multiple chances to spread.

It is now worse than when Dr Holohan and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) called for the country to be put into Level 5, the most severe form of lockdown.

The virus is on the march across the country.

"It is clear that the disease is not under control," Dr Holohan warned.

It comes as Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan entered Level 4 restrictions last night and the rest of the country remained at Level 3, but with the added instruction to the public not to allow non-essential visits to their homes.

Dr Holohan would not be drawn on the advice from Nphet to the Government following yesterday's meeting to review the worrying situation.

The Government previously rejected a call to move the country to Level 5 and was pinning hopes on Level 3 turning the tide.

"Things have accelerated even beyond what we projected a week or two ago. It is a matter of grave concern to us," Dr Holohan said.

Parties

He singled out more socialising, a "creep" back into the workplace, play dates and parties for contributing to the spread.

"The 14-day incidence in those aged 65 years and older has increased from 92.9 per 100,000 population on October 7 to 125 per 100,000 population on October 14," he said.

Professor Philip Nolan of Maynooth University, who tracks the virus, said: "The reproduction number appears to have increased and is now at 1.4 nationally.

"Modelling shows that if current trends continue, by October 31 the number of cases notified daily would be in the range of 1,800 to 2,500 cases with over 400 people in hospital."

Looking back two to four weeks, there has been a fourfold increase in the virus.

The numbers in intensive care will increase in the coming weeks and there is now an average of three deaths a day.

The positivity rate from tests is now 6.2pc, three times higher than reported three weeks ago.

Last week, there were 4,500 cases of the virus detected and that has been surpassed again.

No county has an acceptable level of the virus, Prof Nolan warned. Cases notified over the past week have risen by 82pc compared with the previous seven days from 3,514 to 6,382.

Of the new cases yesterday, 288 were in Dublin, 173 Cork, 123 in Meath, 97 in Galway and 63 in Cavan. The remaining 461 are spread across other counties.

Cavan has the highest rate of 14-day incidence in the country at 639.3 per 100,000, followed by Donegal at 367.5 and Meath at 355.8.

Other counties with high rates are Monaghan, Clare, Sligo, Cork, Westmeath, Limerick and Galway.

The country's top hotspot for the virus is Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan, where the incidence is 651.1 per 100,000, followed by Lifford-Stranorlar in Donegal with an incidence of 610.3 per 100,000.

Dr Holohan said the level of community transmission - where the source of infection cannot be found - means the virus cannot be identified in large numbers of cases.

Prof Nolan said the message to the public is: "We can get on top of this quicker than we might think if people follow the health guidelines."