#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 14°C Monday 21 September 2020
Advertisement

What the latest figures tell us about cases in LOKdown counties - and new, smaller clusters further afield

A number of counties are experiencing new outbreaks, but smaller in scale compared to the counties where restrictions are in place.

THE EMPTY FIELDS OF EMO GAA 758A0597 (1) An empty billboard at Emo GAA Club in Laois. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

This is an extract from today’s edition of TheJournal.ie’s coronavirus newsletter, where we cut through the misinformation to take a look - in a clear and concise way - at the latest developments on Ireland’s efforts to fight Covid-19. Find out more and sign up here.

IT HAS BEEN a difficult week for those living in Kildare, Laois, and Offaly.

The new localised restrictions have shifted their lives into reverse gear.

Given the high number of new cases identified this week – reaching almost 100 again yesterday – there is little argument over the need for new restrictions.

However, whether the form they took was the appropriate one has been up for discussion.

The restrictions are due to remain in place for another week. Both government and health authorities haven’t yet indicated whether they will be lifted or extended further.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at a snapshot of what we know about the current situation both in LOKdown countries and across Ireland.

  • The virus is not localised to hotspots within Kildare, Laois, and Offaly

We know that clusters are focused in meat processing facilities, but the workers in these plants live and socialise in areas right across those three counties.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn explained that cases have been recorded as far west as Birr and Tullamore, as far east as Maynooth and Clane, and south as far as Abbeyleix and Durrow.

EfX62IHWsAcmfcV

  • Case numbers need to be much lower

We’ve seen some worryingly high daily counts, reaching close to if not well above 100. This makes days where we’re skirting around 40 cases seem good. It is a relief in some ways, but we shouldn’t overegg that element of it. “Numbers like 40 seem low,” Professor Philip Nolan said, “But if you look back over the chart, you have to go all the way back to early June before you see 40.

“If it feels like a low number, that’s only because of what’s been happening in the last week. That remains two or three times higher than [what] we were seeing on an average day in late June, early July.”

  • Other counties have clusters

It might not feel like it, but the cumulative incidence of the virus indicates that Carlow, Clare, Donegal, Limerick and Wexford are all experiencing outbreaks – much smaller than Laois, Kildare, and Offaly, but outbreaks none the less that health authorities will be watching like hawks.

The below graph demonstrates that – notice the shades of yellow on the left-hand side.

EfX9TffWsAA_BNc

  • The R-number is looking reasonably good

We’ve learned how much new clusters can skew the national picture for our reproductive number, so we shouldn’t put too much stock in it. Professor Nolan said the confidence interval is very wide, and the number is essentially “not particularly valid”.

That said, we did get a reading of R1.6 this week, down from R1.8 the previous week, so we should take some small comfort from that. Remove the LOKdown counties, and it’s likely closer to R1.0 in the wider community. Anything at or above one means the virus is still spreading, so R1.6 is bad news, but a good bit better than R1.8.

  • Community transmission hasn’t gone away, you know

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

This is the key gauge of whether the new restrictions have worked.

Contact tracers have been able to account for the majority of cases in recent weeks, and we’re looking at an average of around 20% of cases being identified as either community transmission or possible community transmission. Of all the numbers released, this is the most crucial to watch – 12 of the 92 cases yesterday fell into this category.

002 Dept of Health Dr Ronan Glynn speaking earlier this week. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

  • The testing regime appears to be holding up well, despite the new outbreaks

The positivity rate is a metric used to determine whether a country’s level of testing is up to scratch. Ireland’s has gone up slightly, from 0.5% to 1.7%, but that’s still well within the levels considered to represent a good testing regime.

In contrast, a few weeks ago Mexico had a positivity rate of 66.9%.

  • Wear a mask, maintain distance, wash your hands

But you already knew that.

Anyone in Ireland can still catch the virus. Whether you’re planning on having a few friends over, heading out to the shops, bringing your children to see the grandparents, devouring a meal and some pints in your local pub, or mapping out a staycation, you still need to exercise as much caution as is reasonably possible.

This is an extract from today’s edition of TheJournal.ie’s coronavirus newsletter, where we cut through the misinformation to take a look at the latest developments on Ireland’s efforts to fight Covid-19. Find out more and sign up here.

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

Read next:

COMMENTS (42)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel