The reproduction rate of the coronavirus in Ireland is on track to allow Level Five restrictions to be lifted as planned in December.
It comes after health officials announced 591 new COVID-19 cases and three further deaths.
Health officials now estimate the R0 number to be somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9.
Speaking this evening however, the chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan say the true rate may be down around 0.5.
He said the way the number is calculated means that it essentially a snapshot of the reproduction rate from seven to 10 days ago.
“So, the reproduction number today, we can’t know what it is, but it could easily be in the region of 0.5,” he said.
“The way case numbers are behaving would suggest that case numbers are declining rapidly and that we are on target for the sorts of end positions we want to be in at the end of the six weeks.”
"Long way to go"
He said the reduction in case numbers is getting us back to where we were in early October; however, there is a “long way to go.”
The 14-day rate of the virus in Ireland is now at 202.1 cases per 100,000 people – down from 212.7 yesterday.
Professor Nolan said the fact that the 14-day rate is changing significantly day-by-day is an “indication of how fast things are moving.”
He noted that case numbers in Dublin began to surge before they did in the rest of the country – and now they are decreasing at a slower rate in the capital than anywhere else.
“The good news is that, given the cumulative effect of the measures taken over recent weeks, we have seen that growth rate go through zero – which is epidemic stabilising – and now, depending on how you measure it, we are looking at somewhere around 5% or 6% decrease per day in cases numbers,” he said.
He urged the public to, please see this as encouragement to continue, not a signal that the work is done.”
“The work is slightly less than half done, so we need to sustain our efforts to reduce viral transmission and bring those cases and level of infection to very low levels,” he said.
He said that if case numbers continue to decline by an average of 6% to 8% over the next two weeks, “we are on target for where we wanted to be by the end of the month.”