HSE Public Health Director explains how one case of Covid-19 spread to 30 people
“People tend to leave their guard down in terms of their families so that's a message we'd like to get across.”
The Public Health Director of the HSE in the Mid-West region has appealed to the public to remain vigilant around their families and extended families in attempting to combat the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.
Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 on Wednesday, Dr Mai Mannix referenced an index case in the Mid-West region recently where 16 members of an extended family became infected with Covid-19 as a result of a single case.
From those 17 cases, one attended a funeral where more cases arose as a result, including at a workplace where the family member of someone who attended the funeral was employed. In total, the initial case spread to a total of 30 people.
Explaining how such a situation came about, Dr Mannix said it was crucial for people not to let their guard down in maintaining social distancing and hygiene protocols when in the company of extended family.
"In terms with dealing with contacts and cases it's quite emotional for people,” Dr Mannix said.
“In particular situations, it can be devastating really when we deal with a complex situation, outbreaks in businesses and so on, and perhaps closing their business because of a Covid outbreak.”
"There's an index case and that person spreads it to their extended family infecting 16 other people,” Mannix added.
“That's a feature that we see... people tend to leave their guard down in terms of their families so that's a message we'd like to get across. You can't just stop washing your hands because you're with your family, you know, you really need to look out for them. And when we talk about extended families, it's really people going house to house of their extended family. So, this situation, a member of that extended family then brought it into a workplace where they infected three people.
“In the original 17 then, one of them went to a funeral and infected some people at the funeral. One person at the funeral brought it back to their family, who brought it into another workplace, so that's how it spreads so easily.”
From midnight, the entire country will move to Level 5 restrictions for a six-week period, forbidding visits to other households (apart from special circumstances, including a social bubble with another household) and allowing for meetings with only one other household outside of the home. More information is available here.
Earlier this week, a report from the HSE outlining the response to Covid-19 across Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary (Mid-West region) up to September 2020 detailed how 56 cases emerged as a result of one person not restricting his movements after returning from abroad.
The HSE has also revealed, meanwhile, that it will ask people who received a positive Covid-19 test result at the weekend to alert their own close contacts.
More than 3,000 people who received a positive Covid-19 test result last week will be asked to alert their own close contacts due to growing pressure on Ireland's contact tracing system.
The HSE said its contact tracing teams have come under unprecedented pressure over the past number of days, something also addressed by Dr Mai Mannix in conversation with Claire Byrne, a conversation you can listen to in full here.