There is a ‘window of opportunity to push Covid-19 back’ in Cork where case numbers are “mirroring” the trajectory of viral spread observed in Dublin in recent weeks, a leading infectious disease consultant has said.
Dr Corinna Sadlier at Cork University Hospital was commenting on the rise in Covid-19 cases in County Cork, where 119 cases were detected over the past week alone compared to 47 cases in the previous two weeks.
The rising numbers were “worrying” and Cork may be lagging behind Dublin where the number of cases is converting to hospital admissions, Dr Sadlier said.
“We have one of the lower incidence rates nationally but the trajectory is concerning. The pattern in our numbers is almost mirroring the trajectory that Dublin experienced,” she told the Irish Examiner.
“The trajectory in Cork is really concerning. We’re not at exponential growth but the curve is becoming steeper and once that starts it’s very difficult to pull back,” she added.
Nationally the number of patients admitted to hospital due to Covid-19 is approaching 100 this week although a rise in admissions has not yet been observed in Cork.
Dublin city and county moved to level 3 restrictions this week and there is growing concern that a number of other counties will face tougher restrictions in the weeks ahead.
Between 40-50% of new cases in Cork are being spread through the community but the virus could be pushed back, Dr Sadlier said if everyone “doubled down” on their efforts to comply with public health guidance and limit their social interactions.
“Once the virus reaches a certain threshold there is no other option to stop it but to break the chains of transmission through an enforced lockdown,” Dr Sadlier said .
“This is our window to avoid restrictions which we could very easily be looking at in a number of weeks if we don’t turn things around now,” she said .
People’s homes were a “perfect environment” for the virus to spread, she said, urging people to be meticulous about sticking with public health measures and taking additional precautions at home or when visiting family or loved ones.
“We all need to consider at all times that we may have the virus because we could have it but not show any symptoms,” she said.
Dr Sadlier's comments come as new figures published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that the majority of new outbreaks are occurring in private households.
The HPSC data shows a trebling of new outbreaks to 470 in the week to Saturday, September 19 compared to 158 in the previous week.
The data also shows that 83% of new outbreaks occurred in private households (391), which continue to account for the greatest number of outbreaks.
As of Saturday last, there were 1,241 active outbreaks or clusters across the country, with 920 of these in private households and 68 in workplaces.