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People urged to take care as coronavirus reproductive rate increases to one

The reproductive rate of Covid-19 in Ireland now stands at, or above, one.

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Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn during a press conference at Department of Health in Dublin.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn during a press conference at Department of Health in Dublin.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn during a press conference at Department of Health in Dublin.

The National Public Health Emergency Team has urged people to “take care and caution”, as the reproductive rate of Covid-19 in Ireland has increased to one.

The Department of Health announced on Thursday that a further six people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Ireland have died.

It brings the total number of deaths linked to the virus to 1,743.

A further 23 cases of the virus have also been confirmed, bringing the overall number to 25,565.

Professor Philip Nolan, chairman of the National Public Health Emergency Team’s modelling group said the Covid-19 reproductive number has increased.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of reported cases over the last two weeks and the R-number is now at or above one.

“There is an immediate need for all of us to take care and caution in our decisions and actions,” he said.

“Broadly speaking, the last couple of weeks we have seen very low levels of the disease and very low cases number confirmed per day.

“We had a particularly low case count two weeks ago with only 61 cases confirmed that week.

“This increased to 93 the following week and at the end of the week we will probably see a similar number of cases.

“If you’re seeing an increase in cases then you’re going to see an increase in the reproduction number.

“We have said before that this estimate is quite unreliable when you have got low numbers and the estimate varies quite widely.

“The reproductive number is now at or just above one.

“For several weeks we have been looking at reduced disease and the R number in the region of 0.5.”

Chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn expressed concern as all of the 23 confirmed cases of coronavirus reported on Thursday are among younger people.

77% of cases reported today are under 25 years of age while all of the cases are in people aged under 45 years of age.

Dr Glynn said: “There are a variety of contributory factors, some are linked to travel, directly or indirectly.

“Nine of these cases are also linked to groups that have met up.”

“I want to re-iterate that this is not about targeting a particular age group or about blame, it really is about protecting each other and re-iterating the point that we can all get on with the activities that we want to do but we need to do so safely within the context of the pandemic.

“If we try to go back to where we were last January, it is only a matter of time before we face significant problems with this disease.”

Dr Glynn said, over the past 14 days, 187 cases have been notified, of which 140 have arisen during that period.

Of these cases, the median age was 34.

Dr Glynn said there currently 13 cases in hospitals, of which nine are in critical care units.

There have been 462 clusters of infection, of which 261 have been in nursing homes.

He said the clusters account for 7,411 cases, of which 5,832 are associated with nursing homes.

Meanwhile, 26 pubs could face prosecution for breaching coronavirus health regulations or licensing laws, gardai have said.

Gardai carried out 6,830 checks on pubs and restaurants between Friday and Sunday evening.

Pubs that serve food and restaurants reopened to the public last Monday after further restrictions were lifted by the Government.

During Operation Navigation, gardai said 2,785 individual licensed premises were open for business.

The vast majority, 2,759, of premises were complying with regulations and licensing laws.

But in a small number of cases, 26 licensed premises, gardai found potential breaches of the health regulations or licensing laws even after providing the premises with the opportunity to rectify the situation.

Files will now be prepared for the DPP in each of these cases, gardai said.

In many of the cases, gardai found customers drinking alcohol but no evidence of food being served or receipts to show food had been sold.

Gardai also said there was a lack of adherence to public health advice such as allowing large groups at one table, with little to no social distancing, no advisory signage, and no Covid-19 contact tracing being recorded.

Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey said, if premises are found to be in breach of the guidelines, their liquor licence renewal applications will be rejected if they fail to comply.

PA