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Glynn says people are taking days to come forward for testing: The key points you need to know from tonight's NPHET briefing

A round-up of NPHET’s press briefing at the Department of Health this evening.

Image: Leah Farrell

PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS confirmed an additional 1,318 cases of Covid-19 and 75 deaths in Ireland today as Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan lead this evening’s press briefing of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) addressing the Covid-19 crisis.

This evening’s figures mean that there have been a total of 200,744 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland since the pandemic began, with a death toll of 3,586.

Here’s what was discussed at this evening’s briefing:

Not getting tested

  • According to Deputy CMO Dr Ronal Glynn, one in two people are taking “three days or longer” to come forward for testing once they become symptomatic

“The data is pretty clear that about one in two people are taking three days or longer to come forward from the time at which they first experience symptoms to the point at which they get their swab,” said Dr Glynn.

It suggests that one in two people are spending at least a day at home or in their workplace wondering about whether to come forward.

“That’s more than enough time for the virus to spread.”

Dr Glynn appealed for people to self-isolate and call their GP as soon as they develop any symptoms, and that people will not be left waiting to receive a test if they need one.

“It’s much better to come forward and get a test and isolate, then end up having five, six, 10, 20 cases in your workplace or transmitting to your household”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan also added that Ireland has improved massively since early January when there was a very high level of community transmission.

“Relative to where we were, we’ve improved really quickly in comparison to other countries,” said Dr Holohan.

Workplaces

  • Dr Glynn has said that there have been 29 outbreaks in workplaces since 30 January.

“There are still, unfortunately, reports of people attending work with, what would traditionally be mild symptoms like cough,” said Dr Glynn. 

“Subsequently they are being reported as covid positive and having transmitted it to colleagues.”

Alongside the outbreaks in workplaces, there have also been outbreaks in the Travelling community and within direct provision centres.

Close contacts

  • Professor Philip Nolan says that around 1,000 close contacts have been referred for Covid-19 testing in the last three days, as close contact testing resumes after stopping in Janurary.

According to Professor  Nolan, due to the resumption of testing of close contacts, there will likely be an uptick in the number of positive tests in the coming days.

Professor Nolan says there may be an increase of around 150 cases coming from the tests of these asymptomatic close contacts.

“We will see, I’m pretty certain, some uptick in case numbers over the coming days as those additional tests feed into the system,” said Professor Nolan.

“If we keep up our efforts we will resume the downward trend overall because there are fewer symptomatic people within the community with this disease”

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The demand for testing has also dropped, with Professor Nolan saying that it is now around 16,000 tests per day, compared to over 25,000 a day at the peak.

The positivity rating has also fallen, from 27% at the peak in January, down to 7.5% now.

Travel

  • Dr Holohan said that anyone not following advice for travel are “providing a risk to ongoing transmission into the country”.

Dr Holohan mentioned the new regulations that have been introduced surrounding mandatory “self-quarantine”, which were signed by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly today. 

“It places requirements on individuals to isolate themselves, to quarantine themselves at home and to be tested. And there are a substantial set of penalties now on the statute books.”

Dr Glynn said that he saw commentary surrounding international travel, and spoke about how he “can’t begin to imagine how frustrated and frankly angry” people are at those who are breaking the rules.

“It’s very important to remember the extent to which the vast majority of people in this country are following the advice, and doing all they can to get us to a better place than where we’ve been over the past month,” said Dr Glynn.

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