THE number of Covid-19 cases in the Mid-West is greater this year than all of last year, new figures have revealed.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West told a Clare County Council meeting on Monday there were 17,938 confirmed cases of Covid-19 notified to the Department of Public Health Mid-West between March 4, 2020 and March 17, 2021.
This included 8,122 cases in 2020 and 9,816 cases to date in 2021. All data presented during the briefing are provisional and subject to change.
The presentation was made in a week when the 14-day incidence of the virus fell to 37% in Clare, compared to 76% in Tipperary and 67% in Limerick.
There were 44 confirmed cases in Clare, 122 in Tipperary and 132 in Limerick from March 30 until April 12.
Dr Mannix confirmed there has been a reduction in the number of cases per week and the age profile of cases is getting younger.
The public health department has dealt with more than 5,000 outbreaks since March 2020. The breakdown includes 32% in private houses/extended families, 28% in other settings such as hospitals, residential institutions, schools or due to social gatherings, 24% in nursing homes,
9% in workplaces and 7% in the community. The department are now seeing less outbreaks in nursing homes
The majority of outbreaks are now in household settings, workplaces and vulnerable populations
Clare County Council chief executive, Pat Dowling said frontline staff providing health services had continued to show levels of energy he could only hope for 14 months into the pandemic.
“The last 14 months have been a crisis of global proportions. We have been dealing with an invisible enemy, which keeps changing.
“It has been a huge challenge and by and large the public service has served people very well in combating the pandemic and assisting businesses and vulnerable groups.
“Not all countries can say the same thing. There is a lot of looking for answers and certainty on time lines, which I suppose is understandable.
“I am concerned there is a feeling we are on the last lap and I think we are not. I think we still have to be more vigilant in the weeks ahead.”
From Monday, April 12, people can meet one other household outdoors, but not in their gardens; travel is allowed within a county or within 20km of your home if crossing county boundaries; there is a full return of in-school teaching; and residential constructions, and early-learning and childcare projects can restart.
While the easing of restrictions is welcome, Dr Mannix warned it does mean there is a greater risk of infection if people do not apply basic public health guidelines.
Simple measures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, avoiding social gatherings, and washing hands, have helped prevent serious outbreaks from occurring.
“Having low numbers means we can effectively carry out source investigation, which will allow us to swiftly identify trends that are leading to new cases and outbreaks. However, should we experience a surge in cases in the community, we do not want to be playing catch-up,” Dr Mannix said.
The HSE is also encouraging members of the public to avail of the free walk-in and drive-through Covid-19 testing centre in Limerick City, if they live within walking distance or five kilometres of the facility at St Joseph’s Health Campus on Mulgrave Street.
The five-bay facility, led by the National Ambulance Service and supported by HSE Community Healthcare and Public Health Mid-West, will run from 11am to 7pm until this Thursday.
No appointment is needed and it is only for those who have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, contact your GP to arrange a test. A person must bring photo ID and a mobile phone number so the HSE can contact them with your result.
By Dan Danaher