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

Ireland’s all-important R-number has fallen again to below 1.

Updated Nov 6th 2020, 10:30 AM

TWO WEEKS INTO Level 5, have we turned a corner? The latest Covid-19 data suggests we have. 

Health officials this evening confirmed 591 further cases of Covid-19 and three more deaths. 

A total of 444 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday and 322 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday

That is a total of 1,357 cases compared to 2,261 cases over the same period last week and 3,502 cases the week previously. 

Ireland’s reproductive number last week was estimated at around 1 having been between 1.3 and 1.4 the previous week. It has since fallen further to between 0.7 and 0.9.

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.  

Ireland’s national incidence rate is 212.7 cases per 100,000 of the population on a 14-day rolling average, according to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre – compared to 292.1 on this day last week and 302.9 the week previous. That’s a 30% drop in two weeks. 

Screenshot 2020-11-05 at 13.50.34 - Display 2 Source: HPSC

The incidence rate in individual counties had spiked in recent weeks but has mostly reduced over the last seven to 14 days.

Cavan’s incidence rate is now estimated at 364.9 cases per 100,000, according to the Department of Health. 

It was 753.5 last week and stood at 1055.5 cases per 100,000 – the highest any county has reached so far – on Thursday 22 October. 

That’s a significant decrease of 60% over a fortnight. 

Meath remains the second-highest in Ireland with a 14-day incidence rate of 323.0 cases per 100,000 – compared to 561.9 cases last Thursday.  

The next highest is Donegal at 286.4 cases per 100,000 – compared to 317.2 cases last week. 

Counties with the lowest incidence rates include Tipperary (145.4), Wicklow (148.1) and Kilkenny (170.3). 

By comparison to Europe, Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate is lower than France (874.3), Spain (594.7), the United Kingdom (464.9) and Italy (564.5), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). 

The 14-day incidence rate in each of the above countries has increased since last Thursday with France’s jumping by more than 25%. 

Screenshot 2020-11-05 at 14.12.58 - Display 2 Source: ECDC

The above countries, including Ireland, are still considerably lower than both Belgium, which has a 14-day incidence rate of 1631.1 and Czechia, which has a 14-day incidence rate of 1594.4 per 100,000. 

Testing & Tracing

It was expected that once Level 5 restrictions came into force the number of tests would gradually decrease as the number of cases reduced. 

Approximately 116,000 tests were carried out over the 7 days up to Thursday 22 October. The positivity rate then was 6.9%. 

Approximately 103,000 tests were carried out in the 7 days up to last Thursday.

Two weeks on, approximately 88,547 tests have been carried in the last seven days up to yesterday.

The positivity rate is now estimated at 4.6% – a decrease from 5.4% last week. 

Hospital & ICU capacity

There have been 16 hospital admissions in the last 24 hours and 23 discharges. 

There are – as of this morning – 295 confirmed Covid-19 cases in hospitals and 38 people in Intensive Care Units as of 8am this morning. 

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Last Thursday, there were 327 hospitalised cases of Covid-19 and 43 people in ICU. 

As seen in the graph below, ICU cases peaked between last Saturday and Monday but have since fallen back down to the lowest point since 28 October. 

Screenshot 2020-11-05 at 14.49.25 - Display 2 Source: Department of Health

Outbreaks & Clusters

Screenshot 2020-11-05 at 14.59.06 - Display 2 Source: HPSC

The recent increase of outbreaks in schools has reduced since last week. However, it is important to note that this data was recorded during the mid-term break.

There were 30 outbreaks reported by the HPSC up to Saturday 31 October. There were 46 outbreaks reported in the 7 days beforehand. 

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 6,703. Of these, 3,993 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 320 new outbreaks in private homes up to last Saturday – a reduction of 201 – or 63% – from the previous week bringing to 4,815 the total number of outbreaks in this setting since the pandemic reached Ireland.

Of these, 3,125 remain open.

Finally, there have been 8 new outbreaks in nursing homes – 56 outbreaks in nursing homes remain “open”.

Overall, taking in every setting, there has been an overall reduction of 26% in outbreaks since 17 October. 

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