Health officials warn of Ireland's "precarious situation" 2 months ago

Health officials warn of Ireland's "precarious situation"

"We're not sure what we're going to see next week"

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn warned this evening that there is uncertainty about Covid-19's spread in the Republic of Ireland next week, and warned that the cases reported in the next 7 days have already "been seeded".

Yesterday, the Republic of Ireland's planned move to the fourth and final phase of the government roadmap was postponed until 10 August, amid a concerning increase in confirmed cases.

Face coverings will also become mandatory in retail settings, and people are being asked to restrict the number of people visiting a household to 10 additional people and 4 additional households.

At Thursday's Department of Health briefing, Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said that the best estimate for the R-number here is currently at 1.4, but it may be as high as 1.8. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said earlier that if the R-number is at 1.8, that  "we could be up to 150-160 (cases) per day" in three weeks' time.

Speaking at the briefing on Thursday evening, Dr Glynn said that the "dye is cast" in terms of the confirmed cases of the virus that will be reported next week, but beyond that is still capable of changing;

"The cases which we will report next week have already been seeded, however we have the power to limit the spread and impact of the disease beyond that; the way we do so is through following public health advice, avoiding high risk situations and encouraging our friends and family to do the same".

R-number

With the levels of Covid-19 relatively low in Ireland, the R-number (the number of people someone with Covid-19 would be expected to transmit the illness to) is more volatile and harder to detect than in previous months.

Dr Glynn sounded a note of caution around this, and said public health officials cannot be sure what number of cases will be reported in the next few days;

"We're in a time of uncertainty in relation to this disease. We're not sure what we're going to see next week"

Professor Nolan reiterated the precariousness of Ireland's situation;

"We're in an uncertain situation. The one thing we know is that the Reproduction number is above 1. What we don't know is how far above 1.

"That means for the next couple of weeks we're in quite a precarious situation in terms of where this disease will track... the opportunity is here now to bring the transmission of this disease back under control."