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Virus reproductive rate stable while hospital admissions halve, minister says

Health Minister Simon Harris told the Dail that the number of Covid-19 related admissions to hospital and intensive care units decreased


Minister for Health Simon Harris (Handout)

Minister for Health Simon Harris (Handout)

Minister for Health Simon Harris (Handout)

The reproductive rate for Covid-19 in Ireland is now considered stable, while admissions to hospitals and ICUs have halved since last week.

Health Minister Simon Harris told the Dail on Thursday the reproductive rate is now between 0.3 to 0.8, according to estimates carried out.

He said: “The R0 was previously in a range of 0.5-0.8 – it is now between 0.3-0.5 in some estimates and the overall rate is now considered stable at around 0.5.

“Last week, hospital admissions were at around 40 per day, whereas this week it is around 20 per day.

“Last week, ICU admissions were at about 4-6 per day – modelling now shows it is at two per day this week.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dail that Ireland is moving slower than other countries when it comes to lifting restrictions.

He said: “It is true we are slower than countries much less affected than us like Australia, New Zealand, and slower than countries much worse affected than us, like Spain and Belgium.

“I would rather have a plan that we accelerate if things go well, than one we might have to pause, or draw out, or go back on, if they don’t.”

He said when Ireland first introduced the lockdown back in March, there were 70 people in ICU – and while progress has been made, a cautious approach is being maintained.

He said: “The stakes are too high to rush things now.”

Meanwhile, a medical expert said it is not enough to just flatten the curve when it comes to coronavirus.

Professor of general practice Liam Glynn told Newstalk FM that Ireland should not be satisfied with only lowering the level of Covid-19 transmission.

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He said: “We have come a long way in terms of the flattening the curve, and all the signals in terms of hospitalisations and intensive care admissions all seem to be dropping. The question now is where we are going?

“It is not just enough to flatten the curve, in my view, I think we really need to be talking about crushing this curve and trying to eliminate Covid-19 entirely.”

The coronavirus death toll in Ireland rose to 1,375 on Wednesday after 37 more deaths were announced.

There were 265 new confirmed cases, taking the total to 22,248.

Prof Glynn said Ireland has an advantage in combating the virus, as it is an island.

“We have the advantage of trying to figure out how we do trade and travel across a border, and how we do it safely. If we go for elimination, the only way the virus can get on to this island is by importation,” he added.

Meanwhile, teaching unions will meet on Thursday to discuss contingency plans for the Leaving Certificate exam if it cannot go ahead.

There have been calls for clarity on the exams, which are scheduled to start on July 29.

No decision was announced following a meeting between the education minister, education officials and school leadership groups on Wednesday.

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