The Department of Public Health Mid-West is urging more people to register for a COVID-19 vaccine and to continue exercising caution in social or congregate settings, as there remains a high level of infection in the community across Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary.
Public Health Mid-West has been notified of 1,242 cases in the region over the past 14 days (as of September 13th), including 732 in Limerick, 383 in Clare, and 127 in North Tipperary. This provisional data indicates a slight decrease in infection levels, with small to medium fluctuations over the past two weeks.
A spokesman said: “We are monitoring and managing a wide range of COVID-19 outbreaks in the community, including long-term care facilities, schools, early education settings, workplaces, households, family and extended family, social activity, and community clusters with significant onward transmission between settings.
We have been notified of 11 outbreaks linked to schools in the Mid-West. It is the department’s experience that basic mitigation measures are effective in preventing onward transmission where a child or staff member is attending school while infectious. Transmission can still occur in the school setting where mitigation measures are in place, albeit very infrequently.”
Based on current and previous experiences, the vast majority of cases in schools come from outside the school setting, and this occurs more frequently when there is a high level of infection in the community.
The HSE spokesman said: “For example, where we record family outbreaks, some members of that household could attend the same or multiple school settings while infectious but may not have any symptoms. Additionally, many young children have a wide circle of friends and engage in social and extracurricular activity, which increases the level of risk when there is high community transmission.
While children are highly unlikely to develop serious illness if they are infected with COVID-19, we ask parents to be conscious of their children’s social activity outside school.”
We are managing fewer than five outbreaks linked to long-term care facilities in the Mid-West. The vast majority of staff and residents are fully-vaccinated, and many residents will be offered additional protections through the booster vaccine in the coming weeks and months.
We are managing a small number of outbreaks connected to workplaces across the region. While there was a significant number of outbreaks linked to workplaces in the summer, workforces have attained a great understanding of what constitutes a COVID-safe work environment, and the business community should be commended for its efforts to date,” he added.
“We are aware of increased social activity among young people, particularly in Limerick, over the past two weeks. We acknowledge the major sacrifices young people have made over the past 19 months, showing immense leadership in protecting their loved ones and their communities throughout the pandemic. We urge young people to register for a vaccine if they have not already done so, and to socialise sensibly as we aim to vaccinate more of the population,” the HSE has said.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “While our department is busy managing a significant number of complex outbreaks across the region, there is a lot about which the public can be optimistic and hopeful. The significant uptake in the COVID-19 vaccine has resulted in a huge shift in the rate of illness and death among our most vulnerable and the older population across the region. If it wasn’t for the public’s commitment to the vaccine programme, the outcome would have been very serious amid the current rate of infection in the community.
“We continue to see widespread transmission in the community, so we ask that everyone who is eligible for a vaccine to do so as soon as possible, and to remain vigilant and cautious when following Public Health guidelines in public, in busy or crowded areas, and where there is an increased risk of infection.”