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Ireland's R number is now between 0.7 and 1.4, Health Minister says

Stephen Donnelly said public health officials are saying “we are going to have a second surge” based on worldwide evidence.

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking to the Dáil today.
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking to the Dáil today.
Image: Oireachtas TV

IRELAND’S R NUMBER has fallen to between 0.7 and 1.4 with the “best estimate” standing at 1.1, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said. 

Donnelly also said public health officials are saying “we are going to have a second surge” of Covid-19 based on evidence from around the world. 

It was reported last week that the country’s R number had risen from below 1 to between 1.2 and 1.8. Donnelly today described that as a “serious concern to public health and to the wider community”. 

The R number is the rate at which the disease spreads from an infected person to other people – so if the R-number is at 1, an infected person will spread it to an average of one other person. 

The minister said the “best estimate” for the current R number in Ireland is 1.1 based on figures presented to him earlier today.

Speaking to members of the Dáil, Donnelly said the “first focus” is making sure nursing homes are protected against any further waves of the disease.

“The public health officials are saying based on how they are seeing this disease work around the world, they are saying we are going to have a second surge,” the minister said.

“We are hoping it will be low, we are hoping it might be localised geographically, but we have to be prepared within particular communities, particular counties, particular cities for the prevalence rate to go up.”

Donnelly thanked the people of this country for listening to public health advice and for the solidarity people have shown during the pandemic. 

“The solution to this, it doesn’t lie here in the Oireachtas… really the solution to this lies with every single one of us,” he said. 

There were seven cases of Covid-19 confirmed yesterday and nine deaths reported to health officials.

However, eight of these deaths occurred in previous months.

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Case numbers have been rising each week for almost a month now, with 143 new cases reported last week. 

The average number of close contacts for each case of infection has also grown to more than five per person. 

Professor Philip Nolan, the chair of NPHET’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said last night that the current R number estimate was 1.1, but this “could be as high as 1.4″. 

Nolan stressed that this is a very difficult figure to accurately estimate. 

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