Limerick City east has Covid-19 rate twice the national average

Concern is growing about the volume of cases in the city, including in the University of Limerick, where over 200 cases have been recorded since January
Limerick City east has Covid-19 rate twice the national average

Concern is growing about the volume of cases in the city, including in the University of Limerick, where over 200 cases have been recorded since January. Picture: Dan Linehan

Nearly 40% of all Covid-19 cases in Co Limerick have come from one region, which has a 14-day incidence rate that is twice the national average.

On Thursday, the Limerick City East region had a two-week incidence rate of 546.1 per 100,000, over twice that of 240.4 per 100,000, which is the national average.

It comes as Newcastle West, which was one of the county’s worst impacted Local Electoral Areas (LEAs) over the Christmas period, has seen a steady drop and now sits far below the national average at 65.7 per 100,000.

The Adare-Rathkeale LEA, which in January had one of the highest infection rates nationally, now has a rate of 249 per 100,000.

This is still higher than the national average but is a long way from its peak rate of 3,118 cases per 100,000 population on January 11.

There has also been a change in the age groups of those been infected with the virus in the Midwest region. 

The Department of Public Health Midwest revealed that they have seen a significant increase in the rate of infection among the 15 to 24 age group.

At the end of January, this age group made up 14.2% of all Covid-19 cases. This has now risen to 32.9% of all cases recorded in the region last week.

As well as this, the department noted a positive trend where the infection rate of the 85+ age group fell from 8.2% of all cases at the end of January but is now just 3.2%, and now stands at the lowest of all age groups.

One area of particular concern is Castletroy, which is located in the Limerick City East LEA, and is home to the University of Limerick (UL).

This week, UL facilitated a second round of on-campus mass testing, in partnership with Public Health Mid-West, to help manage the ongoing outbreak among the student population and to prevent further transmission of the virus.

Giving the latest up to date figures, a spokesperson from the Department of Public Health Mid-West said they had recorded more than 235 cases associated with the current student outbreak in Limerick since early January.

“The majority of cases were recorded in February,” the spokesperson said.

The Department of Public Health Mid-West encouraged students to avail of the free tests and said that students do not need to show symptoms to be tested.

In response to the outbreaks and high levels of social gathering, the university is funding high visibility Covid-19 Garda policing.

Students will now face on-the-spot fines under new measures to help control the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Castletroy area including a fine of €500 for arranging “a gathering”, while €150 fines can be issued to anyone attending a house party.

Students were also told they will face a €100 fine for leaving home “without a reasonable excuse”.

In an email to students, UL interim president Professor Kerstin Mey expressed disappointment at the high levels of social gatherings.

“To the minority of you who still believe there is no harm in continuing to gather — you are endangering yourselves, your friends, your families, your community, and your university,” she said.

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