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Dublin: 23 °C Tuesday 4 August, 2020
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Health officials 'very concerned' at spike in Covid-19 cases

Eighty-five new cases were reported today.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn earlier this week.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn earlier this week.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated Thu 11:05 PM

HEALTH OFFICIALS HAVE said that they’re very concerned after 85 new cases of Covid-19 were reported today. 

While Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that it was too early to say if the large number of cases was part of a new trend, he urged people to take caution – especially entering a Bank Holiday weekend. 

The significant jump in Covid-19 cases – with 85 new cases reported today – could be a “blip” or a “sign of something more significant”, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said. 

Glynn said that it did come as a “surprise” – but he said that it was good news that cases involved in Covid-19 outbreaks had been identified. 

“Now is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction,” Glynn said. 

The rise in cases follows several days when the number of new cases was remaining around 20-30. 

This evening, Glynn said that he hoped that the number of new cases would drop tomorrow and in the days to come – but the jump in cases raises questions over whether Ireland can enter into Phase Four and whether pubs can re-open on 10 August. 

“It’s really important that people remember the basic messages,” Glynn said. “At times, I think people think this is all over, they don’t need to apply those to themselves, maybe someone else will get sick. None of us are immune from this.”

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET’s modelling group, called it a “rapidly evolving situation”. 

This evening, health minister Stephen Donnelly said that officials are “monitoring the situation closely”. 

Factory outbreak

Eighteen of the cases today are associated with a factory in Naas, Kildare. Glynn said all workers there had been tested and in total the outbreak was linked to 30 to 40 cases of the disease.

The outbreak in the factory is also linked to an outbreak among Direct Provision residents. 

“There are a number of cases in Direct Provision centres associated with that factory,” Glynn said. “There’s a number of staff working in that factory, who were residing in Direct Provision centres. So again, there’s outbreak control teams in place in relation to all of those centres.”

Reaction

NPHET would have a strong case to hold off on reopening the pubs in August given the increase in cases, it is understood. 

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However, government sources state that a few clusters can skew the overall picture, and up until to today the trend has been favourable.

Ireland’s 14-day average, which is largely used to determine whether the country can progress forward, is still the lowest in Europe. Ministers have said that this gives hope that Phase Four can be given the green light next week.

When the pandemic first emerged, the government’s main focus was ensuring that hospitals and ICU beds were not overwhelmed. Senior sources state it was never about chasing the elimination of the virus, as this may be impossible, even with a vaccine.

It is understood that at next week’s Cabinet meeting the main focus for government will be the reopening of schools, however, when discussing Phase Four it will be pointed out that so far, there have been no outdoor gathering clusters and no restaurant clusters – although there was one in a takeaway and one in a shop. 

The main issue of concern in government circles when it comes to clusters is that the key problem seems to be related to people living in crowded conditions, such as migrant workers, those in direct provision and the travelling community – these communities may not hear or understand the public health advice.

It’s understood that there is thinking within government that keeping pubs closed may not solve that problem, and will therefore be a matter for discussion among ministers.

With reporting from Christina Finn

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