By Carmel Hayes
LOCKDOWN Laois has recorded another clear day in the ongoing battle against Covid-19.
There were no new reported cases in the county today, when the latest figures were announced by the Department of Health after 6pm. It is the county’s second clear day since partial lockdown was imposed last Friday.
A total of 40 new cases nationwide were announced this evening, with 12 in Dublin, 11 in Kildare, 7 in Offaly and the rest across seven other counties.
The national figures are valid for midnight last night. Total cases in Laois since the pandemic began stand at 343, an increase of 75 cases in just over two weeks since 28 July.
Since the semi-lockdown was imposed at midnight last Friday, Laois had one new case on Saturday, 12 on Sunday, none on Monday and two yesterday. However, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) stresses that the fight against the virus is “a long game” and takes into account far more than daily figures.
NPHET defends the decision to include Laois in the three-county partial lockdown on the basis that, while the overall number of cases in the county is low, the 14-day incidence of the virus in Laois is very high.
When the semi-lockdown was imposed on Laois, Offaly and Kildare at the weekend, the national incidence of Covid-19 cases was 16.3 per 100,000, compared with 69.7 in Laois, 130.3 in Kildare and 89.8 in Offaly.
These 14-day incidence figures are also active cases, as they relate to the surge in figures since late July in the three semi-lockdown counties. They are therefore far more significant than a county’s overall total of Covid-19 infections, which is the total number recorded since the pandemic began on 29 February. The vast majority of those cases have recovered from the illness.
Professor Philip Nolan of NPHET also stressed this evening that, while today’s figures are relatively low in the context of this particular week, it is important to remember that “this is a long game”.
Professor Nolan said: “Due to the nature of how this virus spreads, there can be a delay between when it seeds and when we see it emerge in our communities. For this reason, we work in 14-day and five-day average periods, in order to ensure that we are seeing the full picture of how the disease is behaving in Ireland. While today’s figures are relatively low in the context of this particular week, it is important that we remember that this is a long game.”
Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said today: “When NPHET tracks and analyses Covid-19’s progression in Ireland, we take into account much more than daily figures. Although today’s number is positive relative to what we saw last weekend, we remain concerned about both the number of cases that are being reported and their distribution across the country.
“The five day average for reported cases nationally is now at 75 per day. Even when we exclude Kildare, Laois and Offaly from this, it remains significantly elevated for the rest of the country at 31 per day – it is worth recalling that in late June, the five-day average for cases reported was less than 10. In light of this, I ask people to continue to hold firm and continue to closely follow public health advice.”
Of the national cases notified today, 75% are under 45 years of age and 19 are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case. A further 13 cases have been identified as community transmission, while the source of remaining cases has not yet been identified.