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GAA matches linked to high local Covid-19 rates in advice given to government

Some local areas that hosted games or finals saw a jump in the growth rate of Covid-19 cases.

Image: Shutterstock/Stephen Barnes

GAA GAMES IN several local areas coincided with a increase in the growth of Covid-19 cases in those localities, according to advice given to the government ahead of its decision to return to a modified Level Three.

Several local electorate areas (LEAs) that hosted games or finals saw a jump in the growth rate of Covid-19 cases, with some recording the highest incidence rate within their county around the time of games.

The data has been published as part of analysis carried out by EY and used by the government as it considered whether to lift Level Five restrictions.

In Cavan, the Ballyjamesduff areas had the highest incidence rate in the country throughout October.

The EY data said that that the “timing of the acceleration of growth rate in this LEA appears to correlate with the GAA county final (winners are in this LEA).”

Ratoath has the highest incidence rate within Meath, where the timing of an acceleration in its growth rate appeared to correlate with a GAA county final win. 

In Connemara South, the incidence rate of Covid-19 increased ten days after the GAA senior championship football semi-finals and finals, which took place in the last week of September and first week of October.

Connemara South, along with Galway City Central and Galway City East, had the highest 14-day incidence rates in the county during October.

A number of GAA games in Cork at the start of October coincided with increases in incidence rates.

“No matches occurred after this, with Level Three restrictions being applied around this time (6 October). Cases throughout Cork began to fall ten days later,” the analysis said.

The analysis found that the reopening of wet pubs in all counties except Dublin in late September, alongside the reopening of universities and the occurrence of specific sporting events, came ahead of a rise in the growth rate of cases.

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 began to increase in every country ten days after the reopening of wet pubs.

The increase in Dublin’s incidence rate was 33% lower compared to the national average after the reopening of wet pubs.

EY data Source: EY

The introduction of heightened Level Three restrictions and Level Five saw a decrease in the incidence rates of Covid-19.

Local areas in Cork and Galway with University College Cork and NUI Galway recorded higher increases when the colleges reopened, which happened around the same time as the reopening of wet pubs, compared to the rest of their county.

The analysis found that local areas near Northern Ireland seem to be impacted by their proximity to the border.

Around half of all confirmed cases (52%) are linked to an outbreak.

Dublin, where 28% of Ireland’s population reside, has reported 38% of all Covid-19 cases and 48% of deaths.

Last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed that shops, restaurants, gyms and some pubs will be allowed to reopen next week, and limited household visits will be permitted at Christmas.

From Tuesday, 1 December, retailers, hairdressers, gyms, libraries, galleries, cinemas, tennis courts and golf courses will reopen and religious services will be allowed to resume, but theatres are to remain closed.

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Restaurants and pubs with a kitchen on-site are to be allowed reopen from Friday, 4 December, and hotels will be allowed to open to indoor diners.

Two households will be allowed to visit a third from Friday, 18 December, and intercountry travel will be permitted for the Christmas period from the same date until 6 January.

A number of restrictions and advice are in place in a bid to limit the spread of the virus in the coming weeks.

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