Investigation of “complex” Covid-19 outbreaks in the midwest region has revealed that at least 41 people attended hospitality settings in one recent week “while they were infectious”.
Officials at the Department of Public Health’s Limerick headquarters said they are “concerned about the number of people attending bars, restaurants, and cafes while infectious with Covid-19”.
“For example, between July 19th and 25th, we are aware of 41 people with Covid-19 infection in the midwest region who attended a hospitality setting while they were infectious,” a spokesman said.
Officials expressed “serious concerns” over an outbreak of Covid-19 in Kilmallock, Co Limerick, which has been linked to “high-risk social activity, involving close contact without masks for a number of hours” over the past 14 days.
The Department of Public Health Mid-West said it recorded “over 20 cases linked to a complex community outbreak in the Limerick town”.
Social activity in hospitality
The outbreak is “associated with social activity in hospitality with onward transmission in multiple settings, including households and workplaces in Kilmallock and its environs”, said a spokesman.
The Department’s “preliminary analysis” has indicated the social activity which led to the Kilmallock outbreak was “high-risk, involving close contact without masks for a number of hours”.
The spokesman urged local people “to book a free Covid-19 swab at their nearest testing centre if they have symptoms, or if they are concerned that they were exposed to risk of infection in recent days.”
“We are also urging all people, aged 16 and older, to register for a free Covid-19 vaccine and attend for vaccination as scheduled or avail of the walk-in vaccination clinics over the August Bank Holiday weekend.”
A “complex outbreak” means there is an increased risk of further outbreaks or further transmission due to each case having multiple exposures and numerous close contacts, the spokesman said.
“This is leading to investigations that are more resource-intensive than usual.”
Dr Rose Fitzgerald, Specialist in Public Health Medicine at the Department warned that the number of Covid-19 case in Limerick and the wider region “is continuing to increase” and “we continue to see people being admitted to hospital as a result of Covid-19, some of whom are in serious conditions”.
“Complex outbreaks are more likely to occur in the coming weeks if people, especially unvaccinated people, continue to act outside the public health guidelines in social settings,” Dr Fitzgerald said.
“I would advise everyone to continue to follow public health guidelines and to get vaccinated against Covid-19 at the earliest opportunity.”