126 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Ireland - all from before social distancing measures

Smaller number of cases today, but it's important not to get complacent, Department of Health urges

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

126 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Ireland - all from before social distancing measures

There have been 126 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Ireland, bringing the total number of cases to 683. The number of deaths remains at three.

The number of tests being carried out day by day has continued to increase over the last few days.

This is the first day in over a week that the figure has been less than the day before, with figures increasing daily up to now. There were 191 new cases last night.

However, Chief Medical Officer at Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan has urged people not to become complacent just because the number is smaller today.

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"In reality, at this early stage, these are small numbers relative to what we're likely to see," he explained.

"There's not a lot of stability in small numbers, so they can jump around a little bit and I think that's what we're seeing. And sometimes that can happen for artificial reasons because the numbers we're giving you relate to the number of new cases reported by the laboratories to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre each day.

"And sometimes it can be the case that the date in which something is reported doesn't correlate well with the date on which symptoms occurred. We would expect to see numbers jumping around a little bit.

"But as the numbers of cases grow, we will get stability in the data, the model will get better and the projections will be more reliable, not just in the near term, but will allow us to project further into the future.

"So I would not want people to take a conclusion either from yesterday's figures as something unexpected in a negative way, or that there's something unexpected in a positive way happening today."

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However, he added, it's important to note that the effects of social distancing measures have not yet been seen, cases being reported now contracting the virus before those restrictions came in.

"The cases that we're reporting to you now are all cases that became exposed prior to the social distancing measures. We know that because of the average incubation period of somewhere between five and seven days - and potentially up to 14 days - combined with the fact that it isn't always on the very day of the onset of symptoms that people come looking for medical attention and to be tested.

"So when you take those factors into account, the cases reported today would've been affected at least seven days ago. So I think that it will be well into next week before we can expect to see any change in numbers that we think would be meaningful in terms of the social distancing measures we've been taking."

Monaghan remains the only country that has not had a confirmed case so far. There have so far been up to five cases reported in Longford, but that figure is likely to rise as more and more people get tested.

"There is going to be an increase in the number of cases. There is going to be an increase in the number of hospitalisations. There is going to be an increase in the number of ICU admissions. All of that is going to create a challenge for the health system," said Dr Holohan.

It is important, however, to get information from reliable sources and not via messages circulated on Whatsapp.

"We would not be putting public health advice out by WhatsApp," said Dr Holohan, adding that information is put out via the hse website, television, radio and print media.

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"If you're not hearing from us directly or through hse.ie, then you don't trust the information that you're hearing," he stressed.

Dr Holohan also provided a more detailed breakdown of the diagnosed cases up to and including Wednesday, March 18 when there were 438 cases in Ireland.

A total of 189 of those are male and 242 are female. The number of deaths remains at three. Of those cases, 12 people were admitted to ICU; 140 hospitalised (32%). There are 27 clusters with 142 cases in total and the median age is 44 so far.

Currently, 40% of cases (137) are community acquired; 73 (21%) are associated with contact with confirmed cases and 132 (39%) are travel related. The remainder are under investigation.

A total of 114 of those 438 are healthcare workers, which is "in or around one in four", according to Dr Holohan.

In terms of county breakdown, 222 (over 50%) were reported in Dublin; 66 are in Cork and 15 are in Limerick. There were still no reported cases in Monaghan as of Wednesday.

Worldwide, there have been 209,839 cases confirmed, with 8,778 deaths. 168 countries have reported cases. 

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