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What does this week's Covid-19 data tell us about Ireland's Third Wave?

Ireland has been under Level 5 restrictions for more than 12 weeks.

WILL CASES DECLINE?

Over 2,000 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed across Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – compared to 1,970 new cases reported over the same period last week, indicating a well-flagged, if minimal, rise in incidence. 

Ireland has been under Level 5 restrictions for more than 12 weeks – reducing infection from a daily high of 6,000 cases in early January to today’s 5-day average of 490 cases. 

Ireland’s national incidence rate is 150.8 cases per 100,000 of the population on a 14-day rolling average, according to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre – compared to 162.1 on this day last week and 190.2 the week previous.

Looking at 14-day incidence rates in individual counties, Offaly has the highest incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland at 350.2 cases per 100,000.

Longford is the second-highest county in Ireland with a 14-day incidence rate of 283.8. Kildare is third-highest with a 14-day incidence rate of 238.2. 

Looking at Local Electoral Area data, Tullamore, Co Offaly remains the area with the highest individual incidence of Covid-19 at 483.6 cases per 100,000. 

For a breakdown of Covid-19 incidence rates in LEAs around Ireland, see here

Counties with the current lowest incidence rates include Leitrim (34.3), Kilkenny (42.3) and Cork (48.3).

As The National Public Health Emergency Team [NPHET] has indicated, Ireland’s rate of decline may have stopped after more than two months of Level 5.

The more transmissible B117 Variant first detected in UK and increased mobility in recent weeks have been pinpointed as the cause. 

Meanwhile, people remain frustrated over delays in introducing Mandatory Hotel Quarantine, unreliable vaccine supplies and Public Health not adequately resourced to investigate transmission links. 

Clusters & Outbreaks

Data from The Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows there were 14 new outbreaks linked to workplaces between 6 and 13 March.

An outbreak is defined by the HSE as either two or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 in a particular setting. Or two or more cases of illness with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 where at least one person is a confirmed case.

There were 205 new outbreaks under ‘Private House: Family Outbreaks’ category and 31 new outbreaks in ‘Extended Family’ category. 

Screenshot 2021-03-19 at 11.36.54 - Display 2 Source: HPSC

The total number of outbreaks since the start of the pandemic is 13,416. Of these, 6,805 remain “open” according to the HPSC’s recent data.

For an outbreak to be considered “closed”, there must be 28 days from the last case diagnosed or an infected person becoming symptomatic.

Hospital & ICU

There have been 43 hospital admissions in the last 24 hours and 32 discharges. 

There were – as of Friday morning – 336 confirmed Covid-19 cases in hospital and 83 people in Intensive Care Units.

Last Friday, there were 344 people hospitalised with Covid-19. 

Screenshot 2021-03-19 at 11.34.34 - Display 2 Source: Department of Health

Testing & Tracing 

Testing had ramped up to almost 25,000 per day in early January. On 7 January, approximately 174,000 tests had been carried out in the previous seven days. The positivity rate was 22.7%. 

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Approximately 167,000 tests were carried out between then and 14 January. The positivity rate reduced further to 17.9%.

Approximately 94,000 tests have been carried out over the past 7 days. 

The Positivity Rate is 3.8%. 

Key indicators look positive. HSE CEO Paul Reid, however, said on Thursday that a 9% increase in Community Testing is a “warning indicator”. 

Vaccinations 

Finally, as of Monday, 620,580 vaccinations have been administered in Ireland. 

Of those, 454,737 have been first doses with 165,363 people fully vaccinated. 

Of vaccines administered so far, 180,594 have been in long-term residential care settings with 292,961 administered to frontline healthcare workers. 

It is expected that administering Oxford/AstraZeneca will recommence in the coming days after the European Medicines Agency [EMA] said is safe and is not associated with an increased risk of blood clots, following a review of a number of reported incidents.

The agency said it cannot definitively rule out a link between these cases and the vaccine, so it has recommended that health services draw attention to possible rare blood clotting conditions by including details in vaccine leaflets about symptoms associated with them.

A number of countries across Europe, including Ireland, paused use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent following reports by the Norwegian Medicines Agency of serious events in four patients.

HSE CEO Paul Reid on Thursday said it will take “a period of days” to re-start the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Ireland once fresh recommendations are issued from public health officials.

He said the health service will attempt to deliver the vaccines – around 30,000 jabs – that were delayed as a result of the decision last week as soon as possible. A further 10,000 doses from AstraZeneca are due to be delivered to Ireland next week.

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