Coronavirus Ireland: Closure of vital lab for two weekends didn't cause daily figures to go down, Nphet says as 552 more cases and two deaths confirmed

Two more coronavirus-related deaths and 552 more cases have been recorded – but Dr Cillian De Gascun insists the temporary closure of a v...



Two more coronavirus-related deaths and 552 more cases have been recorded – but Dr Cillian De Gascun insists the temporary closure of a vital laboratory hasn’t caused any statistical anomaly.

73 cases are in Dublin, 86 in Cork, 40 in Limerick, 30 in Donegal and the remaining 223 cases are across all other counties.

Dr Cillian De Gascun, chair of the Covid-19 expert advisory group NPHET, said the fact the National Virus Reference Laboratory had been out of action in recent days, had not resulted in lower daily Covid-19 figures.

The lab had been closed over the past two weekends, due to a small number of covid-19 staff cases, according to Dr De Gascun, who is director of the facility.

The lab normally processes between 700 and 1000 tests a day but the numbers are usually lower at weekends.

Dr De Gascun told The Week on RTÉ Radio One that “no, not at all – there was no impact (on recorded figures due to) stopping testing at weekends.

“People may have been under the impression we are doing the lion’s share of work (as this had been the case earlier in the pandemic). But this is no longer the case.”

Dr De Gascun said there had been “sufficient capacity” when the lab stopped handling tests across two weekends.

“Hopefully we will be back to normal, probably on Tuesday, as staff completed their restricted movement.”

Dr De Gascun said it was “probably difficult to give an exact answer” to whether Level 3 alone had been enough to drive figures down but he suspected statistics had not yet shown “the impact” of moving to Level 5.

“Generally speaking after intervention, it probably takes 10 to 14 days to see an impact,” he said.

He said a “decline in cases probably started with enhanced level 3 restrictions,” combined with public health advice to avoid visiting other households.

While he also felt Level 4 restrictions in Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, had also assisted last month.

“We won’t have seen the full impact of level 5 yet,” he added. “We do know level 3 can get the R (reproductive) number down to 1. “

Level 3 could “stabilise” the virus but this measure “probably isn’t sufficient to reduce the growth rate of the epidemic,” he added.

“It’s been very positive, we are down over the past number of days,” he said. But the target was to reduce the spread of the virus to “get back to Summer when there were tens of cases a day.”

The virus had “increased 100 fold” since then, Dr De Gascun added.

And Level 3 hadn’t been enough to contain the growth of the virus in the capital, he felt.

“We can see in Dublin, two weeks after Level 3 was instigated, they (cases) started to rise again and they continue to be a concern for us,” he added.

“At this point in time it’s far too early to see what the success is going to be.”

Dr De Gascun said while the Chief Medical Officer (Tony Holohan) has stated the aim of Level 5 was to get to under 100 cases a day, “as a society we want to get the number down as low as possible.”

“The lower we get it, closer to December, the longer we will benefit from the interventions,” he said.

While the decline in daily case numbers was “positive” he said citizens still needed to remember “out of the hundreds of cases people end up in hospital, in intensive care and unfortunately, some people will pass away, so it’s very important people stick with the intervention.

Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 is 253.5. Cavan has the highest incidence rate in the country at 590.7, Meath is second with 474.3, Sligo is third with 360.1, Donegal is fourth with 321.0.

Dublin is in tenth place for the lowest number of cases with 220.9. While Leitrim has the lowest incidence rate in the country with 106.1.

As of 2pm today, 330 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 47 are in ICU. There were 17 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

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Newsrust: Coronavirus Ireland: Closure of vital lab for two weekends didn't cause daily figures to go down, Nphet says as 552 more cases and two deaths confirmed
Coronavirus Ireland: Closure of vital lab for two weekends didn't cause daily figures to go down, Nphet says as 552 more cases and two deaths confirmed
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