The state of the coronavirus pandemic in Ireland has “deteriorated nationally”, the chief medical officer has warned.
As well as a surge in cases in Dublin, Dr Ronan Glynn also warned of “particularly concerning trends” in counties Louth, Waterford and Donegal.
The latest figures included three further deaths and 254 new cases of the virus confirmed in the last 24-hour reporting period – 136 of which were in Dublin.
Dr. @ronan_glynn Acting Chief Medical Officer said: âThe current situation has deteriorated both in Dublin and nationally over the past week. Along with Dublin we have seen particularly concerning trends in Louth, Waterford and Donegal.â#COVID19— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) September 16, 2020
With the reproduction number at between 1.3-1.7 nationally, Dr Glynn urged the public to follow public health messages.
Professor Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said he is “more concerned than at any point since late April”.
He said if the the R-number remains at 1.4, by October 14 there is likely to be 500-600 cases a day, and if it is 1.8 there would likely be 1,300 cases a day by October 14.
Prof Philip Nolan says, "I am more concerned at this point in time, than I have been at any point in time since late April" pic.twitter.com/LtLXQ89Lwi— RTÃ News (@rtenews) September 16, 2020
“If the reproduction number does not come back below one, we will not be able to control this disease and case numbers will continue to rise over the coming weeks,” he said, and urged the changing of behaviour among the public, reducing contacts and “radically reducing” contacts between households.
Nphet is set to meet on Thursday to assess the current situation.
With increasing speculation that Dublin may be subjected to further restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said residents in the capital have been left in a “cruel limbo”.
She said the “shambles” of the Dail’s adjournment following health minister Stephen Donnelly’s illness had compounded that sense of uncertainty.
Still no clarity from the Taoiseach or FF/FG government on additional restrictions for Dublin. No concrete commitments on testing and tracing either. Only bluff and bluster— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) September 16, 2020
She earlier told the Taoiseach: “People have lost confidence in your Government’s handling of this emergency, not least in Dublin where you have left people hanging in a very cruel limbo.
“People are beside themselves, people whose jobs are hanging in the balance.”
Micheal Martin said the Opposition leader knew what the advice was around preventing the spread of coronavirus in Dublin, including encouraging people not to leave the capital.
He said: “You are doing a disservice to the work of the HSE.
“Your entire approach to all of this is not to seek clarity, not to amplify public health measures but to undermine them.”
The Government has published its medium-term road map for living with coronavirus.
The Govt has launched a new plan to help us live with COVID over the next 6-9 months.— MicheÃ¡l Martin (@MichealMartinTD) September 15, 2020
The plan has 3 broad strands:
3.Keeping our Communities resilient
You can read it in full here 👇🏻https://t.co/viDEM8O40N
Ministers recommended that people living in the capital should not travel outside the county to combat the soaring spread of disease there.
There is a “strong possibility” severe restrictions could be enforced in the capital by the end of the week, according to the finance minister.
Paschal Donohoe warned the city could move to level three of the Government’s new blueprint plan to deal with Covid-19, which was unveiled on Tuesday.
It was confirmed on Tuesday night that Mr Donnelly had tested negative for Covid-19. He reported feeling unwell earlier on Tuesday and announced he was being tested.
This resulted in other members of the Cabinet restricting their movements as a precaution.
Ms McDonald said the reaction was a shambles.
“The public were left with a real sense of unease, seeing Cabinet unable to work and the Dail suspended,” she said.
Mr Martin defended his Government’s response.
“Everyone acted in good faith,” he said.
“It was a precautionary motivation to try and prevent risk. There is no big mystery to it.”
Meanwhile, families whose loved ones died in care homes during the coronavirus pandemic cannot grieve until they get answers about their final days, an Oireachtas committee has heard.
Brigid Doherty, a member of the expert panel on nursing homes, said the “lack” of information about residents’ deaths has been frustrating for families.
She told the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response that there is a “huge gap” in information on how care was provided in the final weeks and days of care home residents’ lives.
Ms Doherty warned that the huge issue will have implications for the grieving process.