Students and wider public in mid west urged to “remain outdoors” as COVID infection rates still “too high for population to relax”

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PUBLIC Health doctors have urged people living in the mid west region to “remain outdoors and avoid indoor gatherings” as the “the number of infections in the community remains too high for the population to relax efforts to contain the spread of this virus”.

The advisory from the Department of Public Health Mid-West said people living in Limerick Clare and North Tipperary should “continue exercising caution” after 440 COVID-19 cases were identified in the region, over the past 14 days.

The majority of these cases were recorded in Limerick (331), Clare, (80), and north Tipperary (29).

The department said it is containing to encounter “difficulties throughout the contact tracing process, where some people are not fully disclosing their close contacts or activities”.

“This limits the ability to implement public health control measures. We also encounter instances where some people are not restricting their movements while awaiting the results of their PCR test. This can and will lead to onward transmission and outbreaks,” it warned.

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“People who are close contacts should restrict their movements until they have a negative test (COVID not detected) which was taken at least 10 days after their last contact with a case.”

Dr Rose Fitzgerald, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, argued, “though we are in a much stronger position now than we were four weeks ago, we remain concerned about the possibility of cases rising to uncomfortable levels if the public drops its guard”.

“Our priority right now is to minimise infections in the community, to help businesses avoid outbreaks or clusters so there is little to no disruption during the busy summer period and to allow a greater proportion of the population to be vaccinated,” she said.

While the two-week incidence rate has decreased since the start of June, the department noted this week marks the end of the Leaving Certificate examinations, and that it had already recorded a “very small number of cases among Leaving Cert students since examinations started”.

“We continue to encourage young people to enjoy their summer recess safely and to adhere to Public Health guidelines,” it advised.

“Our department remains busy managing COVID-19 in workplaces in Limerick and Clare. We are currently investigating COVID-19 situations in 11 workplaces, involving 94 cases and an estimated 52 close contacts.”

However, it has seen “noticeable improvements in workplace measures that are evidently reducing the impact of COVID-19” through businesses implementing “pod systems and adequately rostering staff, in addition to social distancing, mask wearing and ventilation”.