DUBLIN, Ireland - Five people have died of the coronavirus in Ireland, taking the total number of deaths to 1,768.
The spike in deaths comes at a time when health officials in Ireland are warning of a significant increase in the incidence of the virus over the past week, and of particular concern are outbreaks in three counties, those of Kildare, Laois and Offaly.
The total number of cases has risen by sixty-nine to 26,372. Of the new cases, 65% are of people under 45 years of age.
Twenty-two cases are located in Offaly, 19 in Kildare, eight in Laois, 6 in Dublin, and fourteen are spread across eight other counties (Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Limerick, Louth, Meath and Wexford).
"Over the past fourteen days, 226 cases have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases in Ireland over that time period," Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said Thursday night.
"While the majority of these cases can be accounted for by outbreaks, this volume of cases is significant and our main priority now is to ensure that these outbreaks do not lead to widespread community transmission in the region."
"NPHET continues to monitor the situation closely. I urge people in these counties to remain vigilant to stop the further spread of COVID-19 in these areas," Dr Glynn said.
Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: "We have seen a significant increase in the incidence of COVID-19 over the past week. The reproduction number for the virus is now estimated to be 1.8. A reproduction number of almost 2 is a serious concern, and although we have not yet seen a significant increase in community transmission, there is a significant risk this could develop over the coming days and weeks emphasising the need for each of us to be extremely cautious that we do not contribute to the transmission of the virus."
Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE said: "Public Health teams have been informed of the locations of these outbreaks as is routine and contact tracing and testing is taking place as appropriate. Our focus now is on controlling these outbreaks and taking action as necessary."
"We also need people to continue to follow our public health advice and avoid crowds, especially indoors, and limit the number of people you meet. The Department of Health and HSE launched the next phase of our communications campaign today encouraging people to keep up the protective behaviours of physical distancing, washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering where appropriate and downloading the COVID-19 Tracker app."
Everyone should be aware of the risk factors for getting COVID-19:
- Distance the risk of getting COVID-19 increases as the distance between you and others gets smaller. Keep 2 metres apart where possible
- Activity How you spend time with people and what you do with them can increase your risk. Follow the government's Stay Safe Guidelines when spending time with others
- Time The more time you spend in close contact with other people can increase your risk of getting COVID-19. Keep track of who you spend time with and how
- Environment Being outdoors is safer than being indoors. Where possible, meet with others outdoors. If this is not possible, keep windows and doors open when meeting others inside
- Symptoms Know the symptoms. If you have them self-isolate and contact your GP immediately