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New clusters in meat plants, direct provision centres and among Traveller community

There is also concern about a shift in the location of cases away from the greater Dublin region.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly at Dublin Castle yesterday.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly at Dublin Castle yesterday.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

ADVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) yesterday outlined  particular concern about new outbreaks of Covid-19 among vulnerable groups and in construction and meat processing sectors.

Following this advice from NPHET, the government decided to delay Phase Four of its roadmap. This means pubs that do not serve food will not reopen on 10 August and the numbers allowed at organised mass gatherings will remain at 50 for indoor events and 200 for outdoor events.

Face coverings will be mandatory in shops from Monday, restaurants (and pubs serving food) will have to close at 11pm and five countries were removed from Ireland’s travel green list. 

In his letter to the Health Minister, published today, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn wrote that NPHET has “significant and growing concerns”. 

These concerns related particularly to;

  • the increasing numbers of cases reported each day;
  • rising numbers among vulnerable groups, including those living in direct provision;
  • multiple significant outbreaks in workplaces – particularly construction and food production sectors;
  • increasing numbers among the 25-34 age group – 73% of cases in the last fortnight have been in people under 45;
  • the recent shift in location of the majority of cases from the greater Dublin region to other counties.

In the previous week there have been 37 new outbreaks and in total 188 outbreaks remain open.

  • There have been four new clusters in direct provision centres, with 47 new cases.
  • There have been two new clusters in the Traveller Community, with 21 new cases.
  • There have been four new outbreaks in workplaces – two in meat processing plants – with 57 new associated cases. 47 of those cases were in meat plants. 

Of cases where occupation sector status was recorded, the construction, food production and healthcare sectors had the highest numbers of cases and 12 cases were noted as working in the hospitality sector (bars, restaurants, catering etc).

NPHET said there have been no new cases or outbreaks involving the Roma community or in residential facilities for the homeless in the last week. All 15 outbreaks in homeless accommodation so far have been closed. 

In his letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly yesterday, Dr Glynn said NPHET recommended a series of targeted actions and supports at known areas of infection, including vulnerable groups and high-risk workplace environments to contain current outbreaks. 

Known outbreaks

In his letter to the minister, Dr Glynn stated that NPHET had recommended a requirement for restaurants and cafés to close by 10.30pm, other than for takeaway and delivery. The government decided this cut-off time for food businesses would be 11pm. 

The NPHET advice yesterday stated pubs and bars “pose a particular risk to the spread of Covid-19″ as alcohol can make people less aware of social distancing and hygiene/respiratory behaviours.

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It also said loud atmospheres can increase particles emitted and many pubs can be small spaces with poor ventilation. 

Yesterday Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he wanted pubs owners to know that he has “enormous sympathy” for them. 

“This virus is taking away their ability to earn a living. It is stopping them from providing a key service in the heart ot many communities,” he said.

Dr Glynn yesterday said NPHET was recommending a “cautious but measured approach”. 

He stated that community transmission is “reasonably low” at present, with the majority of cases accounted for within known outbreaks and close contacts.

However he warned that there remains a “continuing and heightened risk” that the already evident increase in cases could lead to rising levels of community transmission in the coming weeks.

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