Spike in Limerick Covid cases ‘poses serious risk to public health’ says Donnelly

The Minister for Health held emergency talks with the chief medical officer and Limerick politicians about the rising number of cases.
Spike in Limerick Covid cases ‘poses serious risk to public health’ says Donnelly

Jonathan McCambridge and Cate McCurry, PA

The Minister for Health has said the spike in Covid cases in Limerick poses a “serious risk to public health”.

Stephen Donnelly made the comments after he held emergency talks with chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and Limerick politicians and health officials over the rising case numbers earlier today.

The county has seen a high level of outbreaks from workplaces, social gatherings and indoor settings.

Coronavirus – Fri May 7, 2021
Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health (Brian Lawless/PA)

It emerged earlier this week that more than 800 cases of the virus were detected in Limerick in the last two weeks.

Mr Donnelly said: “The incidence of 426 cases per 100,000 of population is simply too high and poses a serious risk to public health.

“Public health doctors have told us that this spike is a result of indoor socialising and workplace outbreaks.

“Unfortunately, this sharp rise puts our hard-won progress against Covid-19 at risk. It is simply too soon to stop adhering to the public health measures that have protected us so well for so long.

“In the past we have seen Limerick’s ability to respond quickly to Covid-19 and effectively get the virus under control. We need people to harness the community spirit we have seen Limerick people display time and time again, to continue to protect our loved ones.”

Mr Donnelly said the situation was a “stark reminder” of the risk that Covid continues to pose.

“We cannot let our guard down now. All of our collective hard work and sacrifice has contributed to the success of our vaccination programme and the progress we have made so far with reopening our economy and society,” he added.

“Our priority in Limerick – and indeed around the country – is to suppress the virus until such a time that we have the vast majority of our population vaccinated.”

Seanad referendum
Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins (Niall Carson/PA)

Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick and Minister of State Niall Collins said that the public health message needs to be reinforced.

Mr Collins told the PA news agency: “GPs said there has been a general relaxation and dropping of the guard by people.

“That all coupled with the reopening of the economy and summer time – it’s important to reinforce the public health message. There’s no rocket science to this, it’s the basics that work here.

“It’s indoor meetings and gatherings of more than three households outdoors that’s the issue.

“People are worn out and struggling. They want to see a return to normality. The vaccination programme is having a desired effect.

“We are at a juncture where vaccinations are rolling out, but it serves a timely reminder that the virus has not gone away.

“I would like to see two more testing centres, one in the west of the county and one in south-west in Kilmallock.

“Testing centres have been overrun. They have been referring people away to Nenagh and Ennis and they need more capacity.

“I think the further reopening on Monday will help because people will have choices to go into managed settings. The conversation we are having today in Limerick will help raise awareness of this message.”

Meanwhile, there have been an additional 529 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, the Department of Health has confirmed.

As of midnight on Thursday, there were 86 people in hospital with the disease, of whom 28 were in intensive care units.

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