AS the number of Covid-19 cases in Clare climbs to a total of almost 4,500, the Mid-West Public Health Department has warned single cases of the B117 strain have resulted in whole household outbreaks.
While the 14-day incidence of the virus in the Banner has fallen from 322% last week to 144% this week, the HSE is expressing concern about a pattern of household clusters.
A HSE spokesman warned the new variant seems to be more transmissible with higher numbers of infections from each new case.
The 14-day incidence in Clare is now the fourth lowest in the country just above Tipperary, which stands at 147% and much lower than Limerick’s 252%.
According to figures produced by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, there were 172 new cases of Covid-19 in Clare, 492 in Limerick and 225 in Tipperary from Februar 2 to February 15.
The five-day moving average from January 19 to February 11 to February 15 is 36 in Limerick, 15 in Clare and 18 in Tipperary.
There are currently 157 staff across the UL Hospitals’ Group unavailable for work due to Covid-19. This figure includes staff who have tested positive for Covid-19 either through the workplace or community transmission; those who are close contacts of positive cases and staff who are showing symptoms and who are staying off work in line with the public health guidance.
The Department of Public Health Mid-West is expressing concern over a pattern of household clusters, as more than 10,000 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Limerick since the start of the pandemic.
As of February 16, 2021, there have been 16,688 Covid-19 cases recorded in the Mid-West; 10,034 in Limerick, 4,442 in Clare, and 2,212 in North Tipperary. The majority of infections were recorded in January and February this year.
Since the B117 strain has become the dominant Covid-19 variant in Ireland, the public health department has noticed a concerning pattern where single cases are rapidly leading to whole household outbreaks.
In many instances, public health specialists are seeing household outbreaks spread to extended family, workplaces, and further community clusters.
In some cases, sections of housing estates and a number of apartments within the same building becoming infected due to social mixing.
However, specialists have noticed that the wearing of masks and distancing measures within households has helped prevent the spread of infection.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said household transmission is becoming a significant factor in Covid-19 infection in the Mid-West region.
“A large number of new clusters are arising out of regular household visits, across all age groups. Whether it’s having tea at a friend’s or watching a sports game together at the weekend, all forms of social contact in a household and can and will lead to outbreaks amid current continued community transmission.
“If you or a member of your household is showing mild symptoms, contact your GP to consider booking a test. By getting swabbed, you could save a life.”
The incidence rate in the Mid-West has fallen considerably since Level Five restrictions were implemented in early January.
At the peak of the Third Wave, there were 901 new cases on January 2, which dropped to 23 new cases on February 2.