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Ireland facing 'very precarious' moment as NPHET warns next week's cases have 'already been seeded'

Public Health officials said one more patient in Ireland had died of Covid-19 and 21 new cases had been diagnosed.

Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Prof Philip Nolan speaking this evening.
Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Prof Philip Nolan speaking this evening.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE NEXT THREE weeks in Ireland look “very precarious” as the R-number – reproductive rate – of Covid-19 increases, NPHET warned this evening. 

Today’s briefing follows last night’s announcement that Phase Four has been delayed. Pubs won’t open until 10 August, facemasks will be mandatory in shops. 

This evening, Public Health officials said one more patient in Ireland had died of Covid-19 and 21 new cases had been diagnosed. 

Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said “we’re in a position of high uncertainty at the moment”, as Ireland’s R-number has increased above 1 to potentially as high as 1.8. 

Dr Glynn said “it’s not surprising that the reproduction number has increased given we eased measures” but maintained that Ireland was continuing a positive trend in stemming Covid-19′s spread. 

The next three weeks will be crucial, warned Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group.

If Ireland hits an R-rate of 1.8 we could see over 150 cases per day by 10 August, he said. NPHET estimated Ireland’s R-rate is currently at 1.4. 

That, Dr Glynn said, would “obviously have very, very negative impacts on our plans to get our children back to school”. However, as it stands, he said, schools returning in September is likely. 

It follows yesterday’s announcement that pubs and nightclubs won’t reopen until at least 10 August. 

Speaking tonight, Dr Glynn warned said it is “very difficult to see a nightclub open in the context of where we are at with this disease in Ireland and internationally any time soon”. 

Asked about Ireland’s Green List of ‘safe countries’, due to be published on Monday, Dr Glynn said that messaging around international travel had been “confusing”, adding that NPHET’s position remains against all non-essential travel. 

The Green List will be small, he added, and only include countries with a similar level of infection as Ireland. 

The Acting Chief Medical Officer also urged caution regarding regional lockdowns, saying NPHET is examining taking a “nuanced approach” to different areas of Ireland. 

This is not a Dublin-only issue, he said. “There’s nothing to say that a case in one county today won’t lead to multiple cases or a cluster in a neighbouring county tomorrow.”

Today’s case figures bring the total number of deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland to 1,749. The total number of cases stands at 25,698. 

Dr Glynn warned that the cases NPHET will report next week “have already been seeded”.

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“However, we have the power to limit the spread and impact of this disease beyond that.

“The way we do so is through following public health advice, avoiding high-risk situations and encouraging our friends and family to do the same,” he said.  

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