Coronavirus: ‘More concern now than any time since April ’ – health officials warn

Cases of Covid-19 are now growing exponentially and every citizen in the State must take immediate action to reduce their contacts or it will not be possible to get the pandemic back under control, Prof Philip Nolan has warned.

Prof Nolan, who is the chair of National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET)’s epidemiological modelling advisory group, delivered a stark presentation to reporters on Wednesday, during which he said the State could be facing more than 1,000 cases per day within weeks.

Another 254 cases, of which 136 were in Dublin, and three further deaths from the virus were confirmed by the Department of Health on Wednesday. Prof Nolan said hospitalisations have increased fourfold since August and are doubling every fortnight.

He said infections were rising across all age groups and that the virus is now well represented among the over 65s. He added there will be higher death rates in the coming weeks unless urgent action is taken.

“Ten per cent of the cases in the last 14 days have been in the over 65s,” he said. “It is simply not possible for us to protect them or for them to protect themselves from a very high level of this disease in the general population.”

Prof Nolan said he was “more concerned at this point in time than I have been at any point in time since late April”. The incidence in Dublin has increased between four and five fold in recent weeks, while it has increased threefold in the country as a whole.

“We believe the reproduction number is somewhere 1.3 and 1.7 in the country as a whole, so this disease is spreading rapidly,” he said. “If we look at the growth rate, it is growing by between 5 and 7 per cent per day. That means the disease is doubling every 10-14 days at this point.

“If the reproduction rate continues at 1.4, by October 14th we would be looking at 500-600 cases per day. All of us need to change our behaviour. If the reproduction rate is higher at 1.8, we would be looking at close to 1,200 cases per day by October 14th.