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East-West divide in Banner’s Covid spread

EAST Clare has been affected far more than West Clare by Covid-19, according to a newly updated map with details of the level of infection in each electoral division, provided by the State.

The figures take account of all confirmed cases up until August 12. For confidentiality reasons, no precise figures are provided for Electoral Divisions where fewer than five cases have been recorded.

In Clare a very large number of the electoral districts are in the fewer than five category, and this is particularly true for the west of the county. Even in Kilrush, the largest population centre, the figure for both the rural and urban electoral divisions is below five.

An exception in the west of the county is Miltwon Malbay, where there were nine confirmed cases from a population of 1,633. This gives a comparative figure of 551.13 per 100k.

However in the east of the county there have been far more areas where multiple cases were recorded.

The electoral division of Killeely, right on the border with Limerick City, saw the highest level of infection in the county. There were 57 cases there from a population of just 793, giving a rate of 7,187.85 per 100k.

East Clare has several other electoral divisions where there have been high levels. O’Brien’s Bridge, from a population of 627, had six cases, while Ballyglass (around Parteen) from a population of just under 6,000 had 53 cases, a rate of 884.2 per 100k. Cloghera had five cases from 581 people.

Killaloe also had a relatively high rate of infection. From a population of 2055, there were 58 confirmed cases there, a rate of 2,822 per 100k. Meanwhile just over the river Ballina had 15 cases from its 3,124 people, a rate of 480.15 per 100k.

The Ennis rural division had 40 cases from a population of 17,709, a rate of 225.87 per 100k, while there were quite few cases in the four Ennis urban areas. Clare’s second largest town, Shannon had 26 cases from a population of 10,299, giving a rate of 252.45 per 100,000.

Mayor of Clare Mary Howard urged the public to continue with the battle against the virus. “Stick with the simple rules we’ve been living with for the last few months; wash your hands, keep your distance, stay out of crowded venues, cough and sneeze into your elbow, stay at home as much as you can. If you are anyway vulnerable you have to be quite serious about following those, they are the golden rules.

“We will get there, we will come out the other side of it. We don’t know when, and until such time as there is a vaccine that’s what we have to do.”

She said the return to school is a very positive thing for children whose world has been turned upside down this year. “We now have schools reopening next week, and it is important that children get back to school, have some semblance of a normal day and a timetable. It’s incumbent on the rest of us to follow those simple rules.”

Some of the great rituals of Irish life are now changed irrevocably and permanently, she feels. “Personally I think things that have changed forever are funerals and weddings. I don’t think we’ll ever have the huge queues at funerals again, I think we’ll be doing guards of honour, signing books of condolence or sending mass cards, as opposed to standing in a line for an hour or more to go in and sympathise. I think weddings are going to be much smaller in the future. Any bride organising their wedding will be thinking what if this bubbles up again?”

Like many people, Councillor Howard says her workday has “changed completely” with use of virtual platforms like Zoom which have taken away the need for face to face meetings.

With 2020 being a very different year from what was expected in its early months, Councillor Howard said people should be proud of the efforts gone into limiting the impact of Covid-19. “I think as a nation and as a community we should stand back and say we have done really, really well. The Irish people have amazed me, they have taken guidance from the Government and changed the way they went about their daily lives.”

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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