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Health Minister says R number has dropped again to between 0.7 and 0.9

The minister said there has been a 40% fall in demand for testing in the past week.

Donnelly says Ireland is 'bucking the trend' in comparison to other EU countries.
Donnelly says Ireland is 'bucking the trend' in comparison to other EU countries.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

Updated Nov 4th 2020, 7:00 PM

HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN DONNELLY has said the reproductive number has dropped again to between 0.7 and 0.9.

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. 

Last week, the R number was 1. 

When announcing that the country was moving to Level 5 on 19 October, the Taoiseach said at the end of the six-week period, the Government wants the country to go to Level 3 and bring the R number to below 1.

Speaking in the Oireachtas Health Committee, the minister said there has been a 40% fall in demand for testing in the past week.

He told the committee this morning that the decision to move to Level 5 two week ago was made due to evidence showing the rapid increase in case numbers and the need to get the virus down to much lower levels.

Donnelly said there have been positive signs in recent days, stating that  Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate is 228 cases per 100,000. This compares with 278 in the previous 14-day period.

He said the rate is falling in 23 of the 26 counties. Donnelly said the average number of close contacts has fallen from 6 around 3, with the testing positivity rate falling to 4.7%.

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The committee was also told the country’s testing capacity is now 140,000. 

“By moving early and comprehensively, Ireland is currently bucking the trend being seen in many other parts of Europe. The 14-day rate in France for example is 830. In Spain it is 567. With our neighbours, the UK, it is 469.

“While our figures are hopeful, the number of positive cases remain a serious concern. We have seen almost 11,000 cases reported in the past 14 days. We must continue to actively suppress this virus to the greatest extent possible,” he said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party this evening that there will be no early lifting of lockdown restrictions and that Level 5 would be in place for the full six weeks.

It is understood government wants the six week period to be used to prepare for the next phase, which will kick in in December.

The Taoiseach has indicated the country will move to Level 3 once the severe lockdown measures expire.  

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