The “worrying” rise in Covid-19 cases in Dublin will need additional restrictions compared with the rest of the country, the Tanaiste has said.
Leo Varadkar said there has been a 20-fold increase in the incidence rate of the virus in Dublin over the last few weeks.
The Government is to unveil its medium-term plan for living with Covid-19 on Tuesday, which includes different levels of restrictions ranging from one to five.
The Cabinet sub-committee will meet with acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn on Monday.
Mr Varadkar said that based on the evidence and data, Dublin is “markedly different” from the rest of the country.
“That will require a different response and that will be borne in mind as we make announcements tomorrow,” he said.
“Any decisions on any additional restrictions in Dublin will be made tomorrow by Cabinet. But the truth is the situation in Dublin is worrying.
“We’ve seen a situation where the incidence of the virus was as low as five or six per 100,000 over 14 days and now it’s hitting about 80.
“Depending on how you count it, a 10 or 20-fold increase in the incidence of the virus in Dublin in the space of a few weeks, and while that has not yet resulted in a dramatic increase in people in hospitals, ICUs or deaths, the truth is it’s probably going to head that way if we don’t get on top of it.
“We’ve watched it happening in Madrid and we don’t want to go there. There is an opportunity to flatten the curve and we will have to make a decision as a Government tomorrow as to what mix of additional restrictions will be required in the capital.”
He said the Government is not considering introducing level five of the restrictions, which would see counties or regions going into full lockdown.
Speaking at K Leisure in Naas, Co Kildare, where he announced a scheme aimed at helping small businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, Mr Varadkar warned that some regions and counties will see local restrictions like those introduced in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.
“The good news about that is that it worked and those restrictions used and released after a few weeks,” he added.
“If we work together, we can get on top of it.
“The phase we are entering into is to try and suppress the virus … and in some ways it’s a game of cat and mouse, and that does mean local restrictions of different levels being turned on and off for the next couple of months.”
He added that the Government will “take some time” to consider advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team before making a final decision.
On Monday evening, the latest coronavirus figures from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) revealed another 208 positive cases, of which 108 were in Dublin.
No new deaths were reported.
Dr Glynn also announced that NPHET has decided to reduce the period of isolation from 14 to 10 days for confirmed cases from the onset of symptoms.
“In addition, it has been agreed that nasal swabs are an acceptable alternative to nasopharyngeal swab for use in children in the community,” he said.
“This will hopefully make testing a simpler process for children going forward.”
“Covid-19 is an evolving pandemic and NPHET is committed to adapting advice and guidelines based on emerging evidence.”