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30 Nov 2021

Longford public told to double down in Covid-19 battle

Longford public  told to double down in Covid-19 battle

Liam Cosgrove speaks to Longford HSE Forum members over the recent rise in Covid-19 rates

Longford's spiralling coronavirus incidence rate is now at a “critical” juncture after latest figures showed the county as being one of the worst Covid-19 hotspots in the country.

The county town has an infection rate of more than two times the national average, with 1445.8 per 100,000 of the population.

Over the past 14 days alone, the greater Longford town area has seen 232 cases being recorded and almost two and a half times more than the 94 positive results experienced in Ballymahon.

The rapid spike in coronavirus cases locally has left health advocates baffled especially as only six months earlier the county ranked second lowest in Covid-19 14-day incidence rate numbers.

“Longford is in a very critical situation at the moment with the numbers so high,” HSE Dublin Mid Leinster Health Forum chairperson Cllr PJ Reilly.

“As a rural county, it is very concerning to see the numbers as high as they are.

“We were running at three times the national average a week ago and I just can’t understand why it has taken such a grip in Longford.”

The Fianna Fáil local representative said it was incumbent on the wider public at large to adhere to public health guidelines in a bid to keep a lid on case numbers.

Cllr Reilly said should Longford's incidence rate continue to go in an upward trajectory, the risk of regional restrictions could not be entirely ruled out.

“No one wants to go back to where we were, but if numbers keep rising across the county and country, I think the whole plan will have to be reviewed again because we are totally dependent on the vaccine,” he said.

“I would be urging people to keep sticking to the public health advice that is already there, of social distancing, hand hygiene and the wearing of face masks.

“We don’t want to see restrictions come back in, but we have ten weeks until Christmas, which is a long time and it is up to all of us to keep practising the regulations and to keep socially distant as much as possible.”

Two of Cllr Reilly's HSE Forum colleagues, Cllrs Paraic Brady and Paul Ross also urged members of the public to keep administering public health advice over the days and weeks ahead.

“People have to take personal responsibility,” said Cllr Ross.

“We have become more lax with mask wearing and hand sanitising and that needs to change because none of us wants to go back into lockdown.”

His Fine Gael running mate conceded Covid-19 was a factor which society, as a whole, needed to deal with but ruled out short, sharp circuit breaker lockdowns as a means to temper the virus' spread.

“I fully believe we can't put businesses in lockdown again,” he said.

“But we have to realise that Covid is here to stay. It's something we, as a county and country, need to embrace but I don't think another lockdown is the answer.”

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