Coronavirus: 3,174 new cases as Holohan urges people to reduce close contacts

The Department of Health confirmed the figures this afternoon.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 3rd 2021, 3:40 PM

PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS have confirmed 3,174 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, as NPHET advised people to reduce their close contacts this winter.

Dr Tony Holohan said it was about using the basic public health measures as advised last week, like mask wearing and hand sanitizer, along with the new advice to reduce close contacts.

“We know it works,” Dr Holohan said.

Yesterday, there were 3,726 new cases of Covid-19, the highest daily figure since January. There were 493 Covid-19 patients in hospitalised, of which 90 were in ICU.

Today, there are 460 people in hospital with Covid-19, 86 of which are in ICUs.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said today that there had been 56 deaths notified to them in the past week, bringing Ireland’s total to 5,492.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told reporters today that the government will never reimpose Covid-19 based on cases numbers alone. 

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Varadkar said blaming the rise in case numbers on the return of nightclubs is “far too simplistic”.

There are no plans to reimpose restrictions at present, he said, as Covid-19 cases are not translating into hospitalisations in the same way they were previously.

“We do have high case levels but the vaccine wall is holding. The number of people in hospital is high and the number of people in ICU is high but it’s more or less were we would have expected it to be at this stage given the protections so it’s a case of hold firm and stick with the plan,” he said.

When put to the Tánaiste that the daily figures notified each day are broken down between 50% vaccinated people and 50% unvaccinated, Varadkar agreed that as much data as possible about the case numbers should be put out publicly “so people can look at it”.

Speaking about the breakdown, he said there has been a significant rise in case numbers primary school and young people aged 18-24.

“Thankfully that is not turning into a big increase in the number of people in hospital, actually that’s pretty stable at the moment. And thankfully the number in ICU is pretty stable at the moment. 

He said there “are no plans for adding new restrictions at the moment”, adding the message is “stick with the plan” and “stay the course”.

On the issue of contact tracing in schools, he said NPHET continues to advise that schools are safe places, and that transmission is happening at home, not in schools. He said consideration is being given to roll out antigen testing in schools.

“The case numbers are high” but “that doesn’t mean what it meant last year or last winter because the vaccine wall is holding firm.

“We will never make a decision just based on case numbers, we will always have regard to other factors – the number of people in hospital, the number of people needing ICU care – that is stable at the moment,” he said.

Professor Philip Nolan said that there has been an increase in social contact, based on social activity data from the ESRI and “the evidence of our own eyes”.

He said that the figures were likely to rise in the coming weeks due to the burden of cases, but that booster doses are likely to offer an important additional protection. 

“We’ve seen an increase in cases after the return of schools before,” he said, but not with a significant number of the population vaccinated.

“If the reproduction number is 1.4, and you plan to see 20 people next week, you might plan to see 8-10 people, or consider how much more careful you need to be.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

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