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One week into Level 5, what does this week's Covid-19 data tell us?

Public Health officials have cautioned that it is too early to say if any trend has emerged.

Updated Oct 30th 2020, 9:00 AM

LEVEL 5 HAS been in place across Ireland for one week. 

Public Health officials will be closely monitoring Covid-19′s spread over the coming weeks as restrictions on movement will – it is hoped – limit the spread of the virus and reduce community transmission. 

Health officials this evening confirmed 866 further cases of Covid-19 and six deaths. 

A total of 675 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday and 720 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday

That is a total of 2,261 compared to 3,502 cases over the same period last week. 

Ireland’s reproductive number last week was estimated at between 1.3 and 1.4 and early indications show it has fallen again. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said a reproductive number of 0.5 would be a sufficient level of transmission to move out of strict restrictions. 

The figures are looking positive. However, Public Health officials have cautioned that it is too early to say if any trend has set in. 

Ireland’s national incidence rate is 292.1 cases per 100,000 of the population on a 14-day rolling average, according to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre – compared to 302.49 on this day last week. 

Screenshot 2020-10-29 at 13.35.58 - Display 2 Source: HPSC

The incidence rate in individual counties has spiked in recent weeks but has mostly reduced over the last 7 days. 

Cavan’s incidence rate is now estimated at 753.5 cases per 100,000, according to the Department of Health. 

It was 1055.5 cases per 100,000 – the highest any county has reached so far – last week. 

Meath remains the second-highest in Ireland with a 14-day incidence rate of 561.9 cases per 100,000 – compared to 659.9 cases last Thursday. 

The next highest is Westmeath which 404.4 cases per 100,000 – compared to 417.9 cases last week. 

Counties with lowest incidence rate include Tipperary (145.5), Wicklow (148.1) and Kilkenny (170.3)

By comparison to Europe, Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate is lower than France (680.6), Spain (486.7), the United Kingdom (431.6) and Italy (359.5), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). 

Screenshot 2020-10-29 at 13.36.33 - Display 2 Source: ECDC

The above countries, including Ireland, are still considerably lower than both Belgium, which has a 14-day incidence rate of 1498.7 and Czechia, which has a 14-day incidence rate of 1481.0 per 100,000. 

For more on how European countries are dealing with a second wave of Covid-19, see here

Testing & Tracing

After a rocky week for the HSE – which was forced to stall its Contact Tracing operation for 2,000 positive cases last week – referrals for testing have decreased. 

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Health yesterday, National Lead for Testing and Tracing Niamh O’Beirne said last week’s decision was taken to ensure that each person was informed “as quickly as possible” and to allow them to be “aware of their status and to take action to care for themselves, and protect others from infection”.

“While this was clearly not ideal and we appreciate the impact on those affected, it was deemed to be the only viable option in order to deal with the most recent cases quickly and reset the system,” she said.

“We apologise to the 1,971 people impacted and are this week going to call everyone we missed to check they were able to identify contacts and advise them to be tested,” said O’Beirne. 

This week’s figures, meanwhile, show a reduction in the number of tests being carried out. 

Approximately 116,000 tests were carried out over the 7 days up to last Thursday. The positivity rate then was 6.9% -  an increase of 0.4% since the previous week. 

Approximately 103,000 tests have been carried out in the last 7 days. The positivity rate is now estimated at 5.4% – a decrease from 6.9% last week. 

It is worth noting that only 11,435 tests were carried out on Monday – a Bank Holiday – compared to the previous six days when an average of 16,700 test were carried out per day, thus skewing the figures slightly. 

The HSE also confirmed to TheJournal.ie that referrals for testing were down 15% on Tuesday compared with the previous week. 

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Hospital & ICU capacity  

There have been been 26 hospital admissions in the last 24 hours and 36 discharges. 

There are – as of this morning – 327 confirmed Covid-19 cases in hospitals – and 43 people in Intensive Care Units as of 8am this morning. 

Last Thursday, there were 311 hospitalised cases of Covid-19 and 37 people in ICU. 

Screenshot 2020-10-29 at 09.29.52 - Display 2 Source: Department of Health

Outbreaks & Clusters  

Screenshot 2020-10-29 at 14.18.22 - Display 2 (1) Source: HPSC

There has been a further rise in the number of outbreaks in schools since the HPSC was released last week. 

Outside of private homes, there are now more clusters in schools than in any other setting with a further 46 new outbreaks in the week up to last Friday. 

The HPSC notes, however: “These outbreaks are outbreaks associated with school children +/or school staff. Transmission of Covid-19 within the school has not necessarily been established in these outbreaks.”

The total number of outbreaks since the start of the pandemic is 6,228. Of these, 3,545 remain “open” according to the HPSC’s recent data.

For an outbreak to be considered “closed”, there must be 28 days from the last case diagnosed or becoming symptomatic.

There were 521 new outbreaks in private homes confirmed up to last Friday – an increase of 60 from the previous week bringing to 4,498 the total number of outbreaks in this setting since the pandemic reached Ireland.

Of these, 2,816 remain open.

Finally, there have been 15 new outbreaks in nursing homes – 51 outbreaks in nursing homes remain “open”.

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