“The vast majority of new cases in recent weeks have been in the unvaccinated cohort, and this is why we are urging everyone to avoid indoor gatherings outside the Public Health guidelines, and we urge those who are unvaccinated to exercise extra caution this weekend if they are meeting friends and family outside their household,” said a spokesman for Public Health Mid West.
A zoom meeting held earlier today between the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn, Minister fir Health, Stephen Donnelly, Limerick TDs, health officials, heard that there was one person in intensive care at University Hospital Limerick, as well as seven more on the hospital’s Covid respiratory ward.
Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, who attended the meeting, said that it was heard one in two of the current cases in Limerick are aged between 19 and 44 years, while one in five cases are aged between 19 and 24.
The surge in Limerick is “predominantly city based” with a spread across the county also.
Daily Covid-19 case numbers reduced from 103 on Wednesday to 75 on Thursday, it was also heard.
“As you know the Chief Medical Officer has said he is not contemplating a lockdown for Limerick at this time. Lockdowns are policy, of course, but he said he doesn’t anticipate huge pressure coming on the hospital at the moment,” Deputy O’Donnell said.
“He did reiterate however that people who are unvaccinated need to be very careful and stay in crowded situations.”
Meanwhile, Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said that while the advice from Dr Holohan was not to place Limerivk in lockdown would be “a welcome relief for many people, we now have a collective responsibility to be extra safe this Bank Holiday Weekend, so that we can curtail this large community outbreak quickly”.
“If high-risk indoor activity continues, we will see an increase in cases and may find ourselves in a more troubling position,” Dr Mannix said.
According to HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare data, more than 17,000 people have availed of free walk-in testing, at two COVID-19 centres in Limerick since May 16.
The Minister has confirmed that testing capacity at the pop-up clinic at St Joseph’s Health Campus, Mulgrave Street, will be doubled (Saturday), and that a second pop-up clinic is to be set up in Limerick next week.
Public Health Mid West stated there was “no evidence at the moment that any of the newer variants are driving the increase in cases in Limerick”.
It reiterated its appeal urging the people of Limerick “to enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend in a safe and responsible manner, as we continue to manage a concerning level of COVID-19 in the community”.
“The catalyst for this multi-community outbreak was indoor gatherings, including household visits, organised small to large social events, family and extended family gatherings, birthday parties, and house parties.”
“This has had a significant knock-on effect in the community, adversely affecting settings such as workplaces and schools. We are aware of a number of outbreaks that have led to local businesses and schools to temporarily close, and the clusters have compounded active outbreaks in the community.”