Social visits contributing to high case numbers

Alex Mulhare

The recent increase in daily Covid-19 figures has led to suggestions that the national lockdown is not being sufficiently enforced.

The current phase of Level 5 restrictions came into force on October 21 and these measures are due to be eased on December 1st. However, the consistently high number of cases being reported has cast doubt onto the country’s ability to meet this target.

The five-day Covid-19 case count has been on the rise, with 456 new cases reported on Saturday November 14th. The number of cases has been consistently reaching 400 per day, leading to speculation that social visits are continuing to take place.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Tony Holohan, said “this is a worrying development which has persisted for the last few days.”  With only two weeks left before the current lockdown is due to be lifted, the easing of restrictions that was expected for the Christmas shopping period faces increasing public scepticism.

This week saw a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes. While social visits are not solely to blame for the rise in cases, they still accounted for the largest source of outbreaks reported this week.

According to a letter sent last week to the Government by the CMO, “in the last seven days 11.9 per cent of cases notified were aged over 65. This compares with 7.6 per cent of cases notified in the seven days up to the 15th of October,” before the lockdown was implemented.

Deputy CMO, Dr Ronan Glynn, voiced his concern over the recent rise in cases, urging the public to focus on hygiene and social distancing rather than looking forward to Christmas.

“We need to stop coming into contact with each other,” he said. Urged to comment on the prospect of a ‘normal’ Christmas, the Deputy CMO added, “we all want a good Christmas, we all want to be with our family and friends. The target for December is to reduce infections to less than 100 cases a day but ‘this is not set in stone’”.

An update on the status of current restrictions is due to be announced later this week. There has been no Government indication as to what direction that the country will take going into the holiday period. The prospect of a continuation of the current lockdown for December has not yet been dismissed by any senior officials.

Alex Mulhare

Image Credit: Garreth Chaney Collins