Michael Staines
Michael Staines

21.36 16 Sep 2020


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The number of COVID-19 patients in Irish hospital is now doubling every two weeks.

Health officials this evening announced 254 new confirmed cases of the virus and three further deaths.

At this evening’s COVID-19 briefing the Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Dr Philip Nolan said he was now “more concerned than I have been at any point” since the peak of the pandemic.

He warned that cases numbers now appear to be growing exponentially and are likely to double every 10 to 14 days if “every one of us does not immediately act to break chains of transmission of the virus.”

He said that hospitalisations are now surging along with the case numbers.

“Of very significant concern is that, as cases began to rise in late-July and early-August, hospitalisations did not increase but, in recent weeks, hospitalisations have begun to increase relatively rapidly with a doubling time in hospitalisation of around 14-days,” he said.

“So, as we go forward every 14-days, we are seeing twice as many people in hospital.

“You only have to go back four weeks to find 20 people on average across the preceding week in hospital,” he said.

“The average across the last week was that there were 55 people in hospital and typically seven admissions per day – about four times what we were seeing in early August.”

He said there are currently 73 patients in hospital – more than 50 of whom are in the three Dublin hospital groups.

Professor Nolan said Ireland’s seven-day average number of new cases has jumped 40% in the past week.

He said the peak of the pandemic saw a seven-day average of 500 cases per day – a figure that dropped to 10 per day in June.

“From very soon after that, cases number began to rise to 20, then three-weeks ago we were at 120 cases per day, last week we were at 151 per day and this week, the seven-day average, up until yesterday, is 210 cases.

“The five-day average up until today it is 248 cases. Even the mere fact that those numbers are different. That the most up-to-date average is higher indicates how rapidly the disease is growing.”

Some 136 of the new cases announced this evening were in Dublin and NPHET will meet tomorrow to discuss whether the county should be placed on Level Three alert before the weekend.

However, officials are keen to point out that cases are rising across the country, not just in Dublin.

Professor Nolan said there are worrying trends emerging in Louth, Waterford and Donegal.

“The incidence in all other counties has increased three-fold in the last several weeks,” he said. “The incidence in Dublin has increased four or five-fold.

“So, I actually don’t want you to get the impression that the difficulty here lies in Dublin alone.

“The number of cases per day is rising rapidly in Dublin but it is rising also rapidly in other parts of the country. From a lower base and perhaps at a slightly slower rate but a significant rate nonetheless.”

He said the reproductive number of the virus may now be as a high as 1.7 and warned that if we do not reduce it back below 1, we could see 500 - 1,000 cases every day as soon as mid-October.


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