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Coronavirus trajectory ‘rapidly deteriorating’, warns chief medical officer

Dr Tony Holohan said health chiefs have not yet seen the change in behaviour they would like.

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(Brian Lawless/PA)

(Brian Lawless/PA)

(Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s chief medical officer has warned of a “rapidly deteriorating trajectory nationally” of coronavirus.

Dr Tony Holohan expressed “extreme concern” at the increased spread of the virus over the last week in particular.

He said the number of positive cases over the past week has increased by 82% compared with the previous seven days, from 3,514 to 6,382.

At a National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) press conference the situation was summarised as “no improvement and potentially an acceleration”.

Additional restrictions have been in place in Dublin for several weeks, but while some stabilisation was detected last week, over the last four to five days high case counts have been recorded.

We give our advice, the Government has to consider that advice in light of a range of other considerationsTony Holohan

Dr Holohan said levels of transmission are now so high that it is not possible to find the source of the virus in many cases.

He said officials have not yet seen a “detectable change in behavioural level of the kind we would like to see… that’s a matter of grave concern to us”.

“We have reflected on that and in the usual way we have agreed on advice and will provide that advice through the Minister for Health to Government to consider,” he added.

“We give our advice, the Government has to consider that advice in light of a range of other considerations, and come to a balanced assessment as to what the appropriate way of responding as a country to that advice is,” he said.

Professor Philip Nolan, of NPHET, said the R rate has been estimated at around 1.4 nationally, but potentially as high as 1.8 in some parts of the country.

He said at current growth rates NPHET was predicting between 1,800 and 2,500 cases per day by October 31 and more than 400 people in hospital by then.

Three deaths with Covid-19 were recorded on Thursday, along with 1,205 new cases – the highest daily increase.

Of the latest cases, 288 were in Dublin, 173 in Cork, 123 in Meath, 97 in Galway, 63 in Cavan and the remaining 461 were spread across remaining counties.

As of 2pm on Thursday, 241 Covid-19 patients were being treated in hospital, of whom 29 were in intensive care.

PA