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Lockdown restrictions should be eased for Laois and Offaly but not Kildare, Nphet recommends

  • Lockdown should remain in Kildare - Nphet

  • 'Proportion infected with Covid-19 'higher than previously thought' as 136 new cases reported

  • HSE this evening published new study looking at how many people had Covid-19 antibodies

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Dr Ronan Glynn acting Chief Medical Officer Department of Health. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn acting Chief Medical Officer Department of Health. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn acting Chief Medical Officer Department of Health. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended lifting lockdown rules for Laois and Offaly but said restrictions should remain in place for Kildare.

After meeting to examine the impact of the restriction on the three counties, the team of public health experts decided the spread of the virus had been contained enough in Laois and Offaly to ease restrictions.

However, after examining data on Covid-19 for Kildare they recommended people living in the county remain under local lockdown.

The Cabinet will decide tomorrow whether to implement the recommendations from Nphet.

If accepted, people in Laois and Offaly will be able to travel outside their county boundaries again but not into Kildare where lockdown measures will remain enforced.

Former Justice Minister and Laois TD Charlie Flanagan welcomed the news.

“I wish to confirm having directly spoken to the Health Minister Mr Stephen Donnelly on a number of occasions this week and wish to thank him for his engagement,” Mr Flanagan he told Laois Today.

“I have also spoken with An Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and the office of Dr Colm Henry regarding the situation in Laois/Offaly.

“While welcoming the proposal to widen activities across the constituency, I would like to remind the self-employed about a number of business supports available to businesses in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, which have been adversely impacted by renewed Covid 19 restrictions," he added.

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Antibody study

Meanwhile, the proportion of the Irish population infected with Covid-19 is three times higher than that detected through other surveillance methods, the HSE said.

It comes as a total of 136 new cases of Covid-19 and one new death have been reported in Ireland today.

Almost 60,000 people aged under 70 contracted the disease up to mid-July, representative sampling of antibody levels in Dublin and Sligo suggested.

The estimated prevalence rate is 1.7pc.

Medical chiefs have expressed concern socialising before and after sporting events could be contributing to coronavirus spread.

Principal investigator Dr Derval Igoe said: “It is not surprising that a relatively low national seroprevalence of 1.7pc was observed here.

“Other countries in Europe, such as Spain and Italy, where there has been a much more intense epidemic, have reported national seroprevalence estimates of 5pc and 2.5pc respectively.

“This means that the vast majority of people living in Ireland had not been infected with Sars-CoV-2 virus by the time of the study.”

Of those who were found to have antibodies, 73pc had symptoms that are included in the Irish Covid-19 case definition; that is, one or more of the following: fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell.

One third of all those who were found to have antibodies reported loss of sense of smell and/or taste, the study showed.

The HSE added: “Using the prevalence data from this study, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre estimates that that 59,500 people in Ireland in the age group 12 to 69 years had been infected with Sars-CoV-2 up to mid-July; three times more than that detected via surveillance of notified cases.”

'Limit your social networks'

Of the new cases notified today, 54 were men and 81 were women.

A total of 51 of the cases were in Dublin, 24 in Kildare, 12 in Kilkenny, 11 in Tipperary, 7 in Cork, 6 in Limerick, 6 in Wexford, 5 in Meath and the remaining cases spread across nine other counties.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn said tonight: "The core message from the National Public Health Emergency team this week is to limit your social networks.

"Stick to a limit of six people from no more than three households indoors and 15 people outdoors.

"Risk assess your environment and do not stay if it doesn't feel safe."

Meanwhile, Prof Philip Nolan of Maynooth University who is heading the team tracking the disease, said schools are “safe places” and the focus "needs to be on the community and households" locally.

He said: "Unlike influenza, schools are not a big driver of Covid-19 transmission, so the truth is, where we see children being infected is in households.

"We need to prevent adult to adult transmission of the virus. If you do that, you prevent it getting into households, you prevent kids being infected, so the attention is in the wrong place.

"Schools are a safe place and they are very well run by principals to ensure that infection does not occur. It's the households we need to concentrate on."

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn would not be drawn on what would happen to the reopening of schools if one or more of the three counties of Kildare, Laois or Offaly do not emerge from semi-lockdown this weekend.

Speaking generally he said: "I cannot say for sure that a school will or won't be closed given a particular set of circumstances. If there are cases in a school, they will be dealt with on case by case basis by public health teams."

The HSE is also examining alternative ways of testing children for Covid-19 in school but this has yet to be finalised.

With additional reporting from PA

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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