Every part of the country is seeing an increase in Covid-19, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said on Wednesday evening.
Prof. Philip Nolan, chairman of the Irish Epidemiological Modeling Group, said there was “no county where incidence is not a concern”. He said the team saw “a very high incidence” in younger people, but also cautioned that there was significant growth in older people. In early September the incidence in the elderly was 10-15 cases per 100,000 over 65, now it’s about 30 cases.
Prof. Nolan said the reproductive number, which needs to be less than 1 to suppress the disease, is likely around 1.2. However, he said this is flattered by Dublin’s performance. He said the number was likely around one in the capital and around 1.5 in the rest of the country.
“The disease is spreading very quickly, especially outside of Dublin.”
Even in the capital, he warned of the virus stabilizing.
“We have been fooled in the past by temporary reductions in the number of cases in Dublin,” he said.
If the R-number stays at a level of 1.2 to 1.4, Nphet expects 1,100 to 1,500 cases per day by the end of the first week of November and 350 to 450 people in the hospital by that date.
Dr. Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, said there was still an opportunity to contain the spread of the virus if people acted together and individually.
“It is clear that we as a country have not been adhering to these standards of conduct as well, which is part of the reason we are in the challenge we have,” he said.
“The real concern over the summer was the level of socialization and all the different ways and means that have encouraged the virus to spread, and the virus has seized those opportunities,” he said.
He said Christmas was “a challenging time,” but virus levels during this time were critically important.
“It’s very important if you go into Christmas season with 50 cases a day, 500 cases a day, or 1,000 cases a day,” he said, assuming, for example, that the R-number at this point was 2, due to socializing. Could be 5.
“I suppose we can still save Christmas if we do the right thing in the next three weeks,” said Prof. Nolan.
Dr. Calling for restrictions on the sale of alcohol, Holohan said, “There is no question that alcohol has played a very important role in creating the social circumstances that this virus thrives on. This virus loves alcohol. “