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Progress on dropping COVID-19 numbers continues in Clare but is slowing nationally

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A further reduction in the amount of new cases of COVID-19 and the 14 day incidence rate have been observed in Co Clare while the Chief Medical Officer flagged his concern with the slowing down on the improvements regarding the rate of infection.

Clare’s 14 day incidence rate per 100k of the population (289.5) is the fifth lowest in the country. An additional eight people have been diagnosed with the virus in the county.

Nationally, 1,062 new cases are known with 335 in Dublin, 137 in Cork, 73 in Wexford, 58 in Galway, 54 in Kildare and the remaining 405 cases are spread across all other counties.

There are a further 10 deaths associated with COVID-19 reported, all of which occurred in the month of January. The median age of those who died is 79 years and the age range is 45-101 years. 3,317 COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded in Ireland.

Numbers in critical care have decreased, the figure as of 2pm on Monday was 207, this number is included in the total of 1,436 in Irish hospitals. 38 additional hospitalisations were noted in the past 24 hours.

Speaking on Monday, the Chief Medical Officer expressed his concern that the “very significant improvement in incidence” of recent weeks is appearing “to be slowing down at much too high a level of infection”.

Dr Tony Holohan cautioned that “a certain amount of complacency being suggested” for people outside of vulnerable groups would be damaging. He warned that a high level of transmission “even among a healthy and young population will lead to mortality and the development of long-term complications”.

Continued progress is needed to allow restrictions to be eased, he said. “The progress isn’t enough to contemplate the easing of measures in place”. He said the slowing down of the plateau is “a genuine concern for us”.

He disputed comments from Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary on Monday morning which said that a summer on European beaches would be enjoyed by the Irish public, Dr Holohan said it was not realistic to forecast a summer “characterised by the things we would all like to do” and instead believed trips to beaches within people’s locality was more likely.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn highlighted that workplace outbreaks have been recorded in the past week in construction, manufacturing, food production and meat processing settings. “That is only the tip of the iceberg in what they are telling us,” he outlined. “People are acquiring this in their workplace”.

Dr Glynn pinpointed workplaces as areas “where people are letting their guard drop”. He added, “Every time we drop our guard now, it is likely to lead to bigger consequences” in reference to the emergence of new variants.

“Part of the plateauing we’re seeing now is we’re testing close contacts which will push the numbers up but what concerns me is that it is all the explanation,” Professor Philip Nolan flagged. “If we’re going to do the important things over the next six to eight weeks, we need to go back to what we were doing over the last two weeks to bring the numbers down”.

Professor Nolan disagreed with questioning that comments of the country dropping its guard was pure speculation. He said evidence is available that more contacts are occurring over the past 10 days compared with the last 20 days.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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