Call to Donegal residents to double down over Covid fight
Donegal has the highest incidence rate of the virus in the Republic at 281.4 per 100,000 population
People in Donegal have been urged to double down on their efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.
HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said the incidence of the virus in the border county remained a “concern” and appealed to people there to improve their efforts for the sake of themselves, vulnerable groups, hospitals and nursing homes.
Donegal has the highest incidence rate of the virus in the Republic at 281.4 per 100,000 population. This compares to a national rate of 135.3.
Northern Ireland has been dealing with higher case numbers in recent days than in the Republic.
Dr Henry said the higher incidence of cases in Northern Ireland was a “contributing factor” to the levels of the virus in Donegal and other border counties, but he said people needed to take responsibility for their actions.
“The border doesn’t transmit the virus, it’s individuals who transmit the virus,” Dr Henry said. “The behaviours we would like to see to break the transmission of the virus, given the high levels of transmission (which are) certainly much higher in the North than the South, apply regardless of what side of the border you’re on.”
Asked whether he was asking people to double down their efforts, he said “absolutely” for the sake of themselves and all vulnerable groups.
The HSE’s chief executive Paul Reid said the higher incidences of the virus in Northern Ireland was having an “impact” on cases in border counties and that the number of cases in Donegal had not been declining to the same extent as the rest of the country.
“We can see the impact and from our perspective we’ve gone for a much higher level of restrictions in the Republic which is helping our health system. That’s what benefits us. But there are risks from having different approaches on the island,” he said.
Overall Mr Reid said Level 5 public health measures were “working” with the numbers of cases, the positivity rate and people’s number of contacts all declining.
He added said the number of people with Covid-19 being admitted to hospital had “stabilised”, but they had not yet seen the reduction they would have liked.
Mr Reid said three acute hospitals – Naas General Hospital, University Hospital Limerick and Letterkenny University Hospital – have been dealing with Covid-19 “outbreaks” in the past week which have impacted staffing levels and led to wards being closed.
On Thursday, there were 161 staff out sick in Limerick which was affecting Limerick University Hospital mainly, but it was also impacting on Ennis. There were also 77 staff members were out sick in Naas.
On Thursday morning, 287 people were in hospital with Covid-19, including 39 in ICUs.
The chief executive said the health service welcomed the “positive indications” coming from Covid-19 vaccine trials.
“Everybody needs a lift and everybody deserve a lift and to see some positivity come through,” Mr Reid said.
But he called on people not to get distracted by the vaccine news.
“There are very significant steps still have to happen before we’d see availability of a vaccine.”
He reminded people of the “urgent need” for people to adhere to the public health measures as the country entered the fourth of six weeks in lockdown.
“We’re only halfway through, we’re only at half time in a very difficult challenge that we have over the next few weeks.
“Many a game, many a challenge are lost in a second half. We really need the public to stick with us.”
He added that “any slippage” could have a significant impact on the spread of the disease.
A further 395 new cases of Covid-19 were notified to the Department of Health on Thursday.
One more person died of the virus.
Of the new cases, 132 were in Dublin, 31 in Cork, 27 in Donegal, 27 in Limerick, 27 in Galway and the remaining 151 cases were spread across 18 other counties.
A total of 78,245 Covid-19 tests were conducted in the past seven days, with 75,260 swabs taken.
More than 13,490 contact-tracing calls were made.
The average length of hospital stay is now 17.7 days but for those who end up in ICU the average stay is 34.7 days, with 14 of those days in ICU.