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05th Aug 2020

Six new Covid-19 clusters identified in vulnerable groups

Rob O'Hanrahan

NPHET have recommended a series of measures to be implemented to protect these particular groups.

Of the 37 outbreaks of Covid-19 recorded in Ireland in the last week, six of these have occurred among the Traveller community or in Direct Provision residents, according to a letter sent by the Acting Chief Medical Officer to the Minister for Health.

Yesterday, Ireland’s scheduled move into Phase Four (the final step in the government’s roadmap) was delayed for a second time, meaning pubs will remain closed and attendances at events capped until a review on 31 August.

In the letter sent by Dr. Ronan Glynn to Stephen Donnelly following NPHET’s meeting on Tuesday, the ACMO said that NPHET has “significant and growing concerns” in relation to a number of areas of the disease, noting in particular “the increasing number of cases observed in vulnerable groups, including those living in Direct Provision”.

There have been no further outbreaks or individual cases in the Roma community or those availing of homelessness services.

According to the letter, there have been 47 new cases and four clusters identified in Direct Provision centres in the last week, while 21 new cases and two new clusters have been identified in the Traveller community. That represents a 20% rise in overall cases of the virus in Direct Provision and a 24% rise in cases among the Traveller community.

To date, there have been 21 outbreaks of Covid-19 in Direct Provision centres, and 235 cases, 10 clusters and 89 cases in the Traveller community, four clusters and 42 cases among the Roma community and four clusters and 15 cases in homeless residential facilities.

In the letter, Dr. Glynn says that these vulnerable groups “continue to be at a higher risk” and are being “impacted disproportionately”, and NPHET have recommended a series of measures to be implemented to protect these particular groups.

These include the reinstitution of cross-Government protective measures previously employed, a programme of fortnightly serial testing (on a voluntary basis) and that relevant state bodies take “appropriate immediate actions” to mitigate the risks associated with congregational settings, with particular focus on healthcare workers, over 65s and those that are medically vulnerable.