Tuesday, October 20, 2020

By Tomas Doherty

Updated: 7.55pm

Thirteen further deaths and 1,269 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the Republic, with the North reporting three deaths and 913 new cases.

There have now been a total of 1,865 coronavirus-related deaths in the State.

Of the new cases, 63 per cent are in people aged under 45, with 221 cases located in Meath, 203 in Dublin, 116 in Cork, 80 in Cavan and the remaining 649 cases spread across all other counties in the Republic.

Counties Cavan and Meath have the highest infection rates in the State.

In Cavan, the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population is 909.7. In Meath, it now stands at 590.6 and in Monaghan at 402.4. The next highest counties are Sligo at 355.5 and Westmeath at 336.8.

Data on Tuesday showed that the infection rate in Dublin for the past two weeks is at 239.1 cases per 100,000 people, below the national rate of 279.3 and lower than 15 other counties.

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Meanwhile, the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has said that penalties for people who breach Covid-19 restrictions will be “helpful” and “play a role” in curbing the spread of the virus.

Legislation to allow for the issuing of fines for people who do not adhere to the Government’s restrictions is expected to be passed by the Oireachtas in the coming days.

The Government announced on Monday that Level 5 restrictions will come into effect across the country at midnight on Wednesday for six weeks in a bid to reduce the infection rate.

Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, Dr Holohan said the vast majority of people are complying with measures but the introduction of fines would be helpful to tackle those who are not.

“They won’t be necessary to encourage the right behaviour on behalf of every individual but they will play a role and I think they’ll have a marginal effect,” he said.

“And every marginal will be helpful in terms of the challenge we have to overcome.”

The chief medical officer added: “Every little measure that we can have, including the use of graduated fines in certain settings, can get us that extra little bit of improvement that we need.

“And we know that many people are complying but some are not and this gives us means and measures that we can take to address that.”

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Earlier on Tuesday, Dr Holohan called on everyone to behave in “a manner” that will drive down levels of Covid-19 infection.

The new measures under Level 5 were needed to protect schools and childcare services, to protect the health of people and to protect the health service, he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

Dr Holohan called on anyone with symptoms, or who may be waiting for a Covid test or result, to self-isolate, and warned that people who were symptomatic could not attend work, school or look after vulnerable people.

Dr Holohan said the National Public Health Emergency team (Nphet) would continue to track the 14-day incidence rate and monitor the positivity rate and hospital admissions, including intensive care numbers. If the country was down to fewer than 100 cases a day by December 1st then “we will have achieved what we set out to do.”

Back in the spring the reproduction rate of the virus, or “R” rate, had been brought down to around 0.5 and Ireland needed to get back to that level again, he said.

An “R” of below 1 means the virus is being controlled and will eventually die out. Over 1 means it is continuing to grow.

Dr Holohan urged people to follow public health advice “if we are to break the well-established chains of transmission.” – Additional reporting: Vivienne Clarke, Press Association

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