Coronavirus Covid-19 confirmed cases reaches 54 - 1,000 expected by end of week

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Coronavirus case confirmed in east of Ireland

Coronavirus case incidence updated

Health authorities have confirmed that 54 new cases of coronavirus Covid-19 have been confirmed here

The Department of Health update brings the total number of cases to 223.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said up to 1,000 people would have contracted the disease in Ireland by the end of this week. He said this would have involved an estimated 40,000 people who would have had close contacts.

By Tuesday, an extra 78 cases are expected with a further 109 expected by Wednesday rising to a daily total of 335 by Sunday. He said the further growth is expected after that.

He said the pattern of severity would match the pattern in other countries so deaths will increase as has happened in other countries. He said cases would increase but for most it will be a mild illness. 

He said he did not expect growth to have slowed by March 29.

He said projection models do not allow predictions about the number of cases that are not confirmed.

He said a detailed surveillance report that would include a county by county basis would be published on a weekly basis. This will also break down cases by age, sex and hospitalisation status.

Dr Holohan said it is too early to say if school closures and other measures were having an impact.

He said a lock down is not being recommended but a package of different measures involving social distancing is a reasonable response. He said a lock down would be "disproportionate response at this point".

He said the current restrictions are expected to last for significant period of time. He said restrictions have yet to be lifted in China. He said the swine flu occurred first in 2009 and is not part of the annual flu season.

A large shipment of tests are due on Thursday as testing ramps up and lab capacity expands to seven hospital labs around Ireland.

So far 19 centres have been set up with 34 due to be set up by the end of the week. Dr Colm Henry say there has been a huge increase in demands for tests and he was not in a position to state how long it will take to carry out a text.

Dr Henry said hubs of surveillance are being set up in the south and east of the country which would involve army and civilians. 

Dr Holohan said they did not want to see financial impediments to people getting access to services.  While family doctors have performed 'heroically', he said the charging of fees by GPs would be one such impediment.

Research carried out by Amarach for the Department of Health shows that 90% of people say they are washing their hands and 84 percent of people know the there most important symtoms of the illness. Some 78% of people say they are staying at home while 45% of people say they have started to work from home but just 54% of people say they are sitting further apart when it comes to social distancing. 90% of people say they have somebody to look after them if they get sick.