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The CMO (L) and Health Minister (R).
The CMO (L) and Health Minister (R).
Image: Rollingnews.ie

No local lockdown after Holohan and Donnelly meet public-health doctors to discuss Limerick Covid spike

The CMO has said that a local lockdown can not be ruled out but is not currently advised.
Jun 4th 2021, 7:43 AM 64,280 73

Updated Jun 4th 2021, 9:48 PM

THERE WILL BE no lockdown imposed in Limerick, and restrictions can be lifted next week in line with the rest of the country, following a public health meeting about the recent surge in cases in the county.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly met with public health officials and local representatives in Limerick today amid a spike of cases in the region. 

Last night, Holohan said that the incidence rate in Limerick was 411 cases per 100,000 – prompting a meeting today to tackle the issue. 

In a statement released after the meeting, Donnelly said that public health doctors said the spike in cases is a result of indoor socialising and workplace outbreaks.

It has been said that the Delta variant, first detected in India, is not fuelling the surge, though the possibility is not being ruled out. 

In a tweet, Donnelly said that testing and tracing would be “enhanced” in the coming days.

The Department of Public Health Mid-West is asking people in the county to act responsibly over the bank holiday weekend.

“The catalyst for this multi-community outbreak was indoor gatherings, including household visits, organised small-to-large social events, family and extended family gatherings, birthday parties, and house parties,” the department said.

“This has had significant knock-on effect in the community, adversely affecting settings such as workplaces and schools.”

The department said it is aware of a small number of students who were due to sit the Leaving Certificate that are missing the exams because they have contracted the virus or are a close contact.

Local TD Niall Collins tweeted after the meeting that no local lockdown is planned. Additional walk-in centres are to be set up, bringing the total in the county to three.

There were 75 positive cases today in Limerick – down from over 100 yesterday.

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan told RTÉ Radio One: “We’re telling people we have a serious problem here. We’ve been here before, we’ve been here before with Waterford… and we brought it under control. We’ll do it the same way as we did before… with simple measures.”

Earlier

At Wednesday’s NPHET media briefing, Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health at the HSE Mid-West said there were 740 cases of Covid-19 recorded in Limerick between 16 and 31 May, with more than 65 in Clare and more than 30 in north Tipperary. 

The CMO said it is “extremely important that everyone in the Limerick region continues to adhere to the public health advice”.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said this morning that they are “concerned” about the situation in Limerick. 

Speaking to Spin 1038, Dr Glynn said: “But one of the striking things about Limerick over the past year has been that each time there has been a challenge there, they have responded really well collectively, and we’ve seen that again over the past week.” 

He said there has been a “huge number” of people coming forward to get tested. 

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“The situation isn’t good there but if we can see the collective community response once again in Limerick that we’ve seen previously, we have to be optimistic that we can overcome this,” Dr Glynn said. 

Addressing the issue in Limerick on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, HSE chief executive Paul Reid that while over half of the population has been vaccinated, “it’s still important to say that 47% of the population aren’t vaccinated”.

“We are seeing huge benefits from the vaccination programme, but it is important to remind everybody the virus is still out there, it’s still transmitting,” Reid said.

“Everybody wants to move on away from this, and we are in a much strong position, a much more positive position, but unfortunately the virus has caught us every time we’ve dropped our guard,” he said. 

Reid said it’s important that “we continue to keep our guard up”.

Health officials have said they do not believed the spike in Limerick has been caused by the prevalence as the so-called India variant, now referred to by the World Health Organisation as the Delta variant.

Speaking on Wednesday, Holohan said that “local lockdowns” can be avoided and the people in Limerick need to continue to listen to public health messages. 

“We don’t believe that we need to be, at this point in time, advising on local lockdown measures but we would never rule out that for any particular part of the country it we felt that that was necessary,” he said.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin and Lauren Boland

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