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*Dr Mai Mannix. Photograph: Keith Wiseman

A change in the age-profile of persons diagnosed with COVID-19 has been observed, the Department of Public Health Mid-West have stated.

Confirmed cases so far this year have already surpassed their 2020 equivalent in the Mid-West. Over 4,800 persons have tested positive for the virus in Clare as the county continues to have one of the lowest 14 day incidence rates per 100k of the population across the Republic of Ireland.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, the “huge upsurge” in cases at the beginning of January has served as one of the most “interesting” occurrences, Dr Mai Mannix admitted. 4000 cases in the Mid-West alone were recorded at this juncture.

Of the 17,938 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Mid-West from March 4th 2020 to March 17th 2021, 1,011 were hospitalised and 78 were admitted to intensive care, 55.2 percent of the hospital cases were over the age of 65. The 15-24 age-group accounts for the majority of the total confirmed cases.

Data up until St Patrick’s Day has noted that 379 of the confirmed cases in the Mid-West have died, ninety five percent of which were 65 and older. 49 percent of the deaths occurred in January of this year.

There has been a change in the age profile of confirmed cases since the January upsurge, the Director of Public Health Mid West stated. She attributed this to the older cohort getting more protection through the vaccine.

5,000 outbreaks have been dealt with by the Department of Public Health Mid-West since March of last year. 32% were in private houses/extended families, 28% were in other settings such as hospitals, residential institutions, schools or due to social gatherings, 24% were in nursing homes, 9% were in workplaces and 7% in the community.

“It is quite dramatic the change we are seeing. We’re at a critical point, our numbers are low and I really want to compliment the people of Clare, there has been a marked reduction,” Dr Mannix stated.

An increase in cases is highly probable with a gradual reopening combined with the return of schools, she added.

UL Hospitals Group have said the impact of COVID-19 on staffing levels has “decreased dramatically”. The figure was at its highest on January 18th of this year with 602 members of staff on COVID-19 leave, as of March 8th the figure was down to 78, these personnel are on leave due to testing positive, being deemed a close contact or in some instance ‘long COVID’.

Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling stressed the need for the Clare public to continue to abide by the guidelines. “It is a crisis of global importance,” he stated. Dowling shared his concern that there is a view “we’re on the last lap, we’re not and we’ve to be more vigilant in the weeks ahead”.

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