The number of Covid-19 cases contracted in communities has been described as one of the most challenging aspects in Ireland’s response to the pandemic.
Two thirds (66%) of cases so far have arisen from people going about their daily business. The Department of Health has said this transmission rate is what makes the disease so challenging to manage. Furthermore, the ongoing risk to the general population makes it too early to consider lifting community and physical distancing measures.
As Ireland’s restriction period is extended until May 5th, the National Public Health Emergency Team has said there are encouraging signs that the measures have had a positive effect on the slowing of the spread of the disease in Ireland.
“That means that what we are doing is working,” said Elizabeth Canavan from the Department of the Taoiseach.
“However, they (NPHET) also underline the challenges that the health and social care systems continue to face because of COVID-19. They particularly emphasised the fact that we have 66% rate of community transmission – that means the people who are getting the disease are doing so just going about their daily business. That’s what makes this disease so challenging to manage.
“They also focused on the increasing number of clusters we are seeing in the most vulnerable in our communities.”
The latest data from the HPSC shows that, of the confirmed Covid-19 cases for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 66%, close contact accounts for 27%, travel abroad accounts for 7%.
These factors have led to the NPHET stating that it is too early to start lifting restriction measures.
“We need to wait and watch a bit longer. We are at a delicate and critical point in trying to figure out how to proceed. Whatever we decide to do next will have to be done carefully and cautiously,” Ms Canavan said.
Monday’s Covid-19 update from the Department of Health stated that Ireland now has 10,647 confirmed cases of the virus.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the day marked a milestone in Ireland’s experience of COVID-19.
“The number of community cases of COVID-19 shows why we continue to need the public health measures that we currently have in place. I understand that the current restrictions are tough, especially during a bank holiday weekend when in normal circumstances most of us would have met up with family and friends but I ask that the public continue to work with us and follow the guidelines that are in place.”
Dr Holohan added that adherence to the lockdown extension will be crucial: “The next three weeks will prove crucial to Ireland’s COVID-19 story and by working together we give ourselves the best chance to slow the spread and save lives.”