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*Photograph: John Mangan

On a day when the Republic of Ireland recorded its highest ever daily increase (1,205) of COVID-19 cases, 13 new cases have emerged in Co Clare.

A worrying picture on the “exponential growth” of the virus was outlined by health officials at Thursday evening’s Department of Health press briefing. 1,205 new cases have been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 288 of which are in Dublin, 173 in Cork, 123 in Meath, 97 in Galway, 63 in Cavan and 13 in Co Clare, the remaining 448 cases are located in the remaining 20 counties.

Ireland’s death toll from Coronavirus has increased by three to 1,838. As of 2pm today, there are 241 individuals being treated for the virus in Irish hospital, of this 29 are in ICU. In the past 24 hours, 24 additional hospitalisations were recorded.

Since the commencement of Level 3 restrictions, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Phillip Nolan admitted, “We have seen little evidence of any improvement in the trajectory of the disease”. He revealed that they were worried the pandemic has “accelerated further”.

Over the past week, an average of 809 cases per day have been reported. Professor Nolan estimated that the doubling time for the virus was now 14 days. He anticipated a further growth in the amount of individuals in intensive care.

Growth of the virus is “a universal issue across the State,” he outlined and described it as “an exponential growth”. In Dublin, Nolan said that the presence of COVID-19 was growing but not as quick as the other 25 counties where it is “growing very quickly”.

Speaking on Thursday, the Chief Medical Officer warned that all key indicators of the virus are rising across the country. “There has been further increases across all key indicators of COVID-19 and the growth rate of the epidemic has accelerated since NPHET last met. Cases notified over the past week have increased by 82% compared with the previous 7 days, from 3,514 to 6,382 cases. The positivity rate over the past 7 days is now 6.2% and is continuing to increase. The 14-day incidence in those aged 65 years and older has increased from 92.9 per 100,000 population on 7th October to 125 per 100,000 population on the 14th of October. The number of hospitalisations are increasing faster than the exponential growth modelling predicted. This indicates a rapidly deteriorating disease trajectory nationally.”

According to Professor Philip Nolan,, “The reproduction number appears to have increased and is now at 1.4 nationally. Modelling shows that if current trends continue, by October 31st, the number of cases notified daily would be in the range of 1,800 – 2,500 cases with over 400 people in hospital”.

Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE, Dr Colm Henry believed the present challenge was “much greater” than earlier in the year. “The higher the community transmission the more difficult it is to protect medically vulnerably people in all heathcare settings. We appeal to everyone to play their part in protecting patients, healthcare workers and frontline services”.

Employers have been appealed to, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn advised the press briefing, to continue to facilitate remote working. Dr Holohan added, “We are seeing too much of the behaviour that is facilitating the growth of the virus” and he referenced personnel “creeping back into the office” and the organising of play-dates.

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