DONEGAL has been warned that the Covid-19 incidence rate must fall for the county to be able to come out of Level 5 restrictions next month.
Donegal went into Level 3 of the restrictions in late September before the whole country was moved to Level 5 in October.
However, Donegal’s incidence rate of the coronavirus has remained alarmingly high.
Now, in a joint message the HSE, An Garda Síochána and Donegal County Council have urged the people of Donegal to take action.
“We are all acutely aware that the incidence rate of COVID19 in Donegal is too high and needs to come down,” a joint statement said.
“This has to happen in order for Government restrictions to be eased from Level 5 and protect lives and our communities. We know that we the people of Donegal have the power to make this change if we all work together. It is difficult but we need to keep up our guard, play our part and work with our families and communities to stop the spread of Covid-19.”
In the last 14 days to the 17th of November there were: 428 new positive cases in Donegal; 282 cases of Covid-19 per 100,0000 of the population is the 14-Day incidence rate in Donegal.
This is more than double the national 14-Day incidence rate of 121.3 cases per 100,000 of the population.
The HSE’s hospital and community services Donegal County Council and an Garda Síochána are working together through emergency management structures to co-ordinate the community response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Today they are issuing an urgent appeal to the citizens of Donegal to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Aidan Ryan, Public Health Specialist in the North West explained why the numbers are high. He said: “Community transmission in Donegal appears to be higher than many other counties. This is due to a number of factors including, cross border travel and people are still congregating for social purposes including events such as wakes and funerals or gatherings extending beyond the family or bubble.
“If people are undertaking essential travel (work or education) to the North, do the basics, make sure you social distance, wear a face covering, wash your hands and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. We know these measures work”.
Sean Murphy, Hospital Manager at LUH, commenting on the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak at the hospital said: “As numbers increase in the community, the pressure on healthcare workers and frontline services intensifies. Over the last number of weeks, we have seen increasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 patients in LUH. We need everyone to follow the HSE’s public health advice and help us maintain essential health services for the people of county Donegal”.
Chief Superintendent for the Donegal Garda Division, and Chair of the North West Major Emergency Management Interagency Group Terry McGinn said: “An Garda Síochána in Donegal are appealing to the public over the next number of weeks to stay at home unless their journey is absolutely essential. Traffic across the county remains high and gatherings are contributing to the increase in cases. We are asking the public to drive down the virus by thinking twice before driving for non-essential purposes.
“To that end An Garda Síochána have increased the number of Operation Fanacht checkpoints across County Donegal’s vast road network. We are doing this in support of the public health measures to protect lives and to protect our communities. High visibility community engagement patrols continue and Gardaí will continue to engage with the most vulnerable in society to provide them with the necessary supports”.
The Chief Executive of Donegal County Council Mr John McLaughlin said: “This is a very difficult time for everyone, we need to get the virus under control. If anyone needs assistance, I would ask them to call the Covid 19 Community Helpline. We can get through this together, if we all do our part and adhere to the guidelines.”