People urged to redouble efforts to flatten the coronavirus infection curve

Experts tracking the disease say there is no room for complacency

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Ireland is flattening the curve but the public has been urged to redouble their efforts to stop the spread and reduce the number of people who could die from Covid-19 in Ireland, according to an expert in modelling how Ireland is fairing.

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the Nation Public Health Emergency Team Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG), said Ireland is not on an unmitigated epidemic track.

“The model reveals that before restrictions were in place, daily growth rate of confirmed cases was at 33%. This has fallen in recent days to around 15%. But it is still growing and needs to fall further.

“It takes time to see the impact of our efforts in the numbers. It will be another 7-10 days before we have a reliable picture of how effective our collective efforts have been,” he said.

"I think people need to redouble the efforts they are making to prevent the spread of infection through one person to another through the measures that public health have advised. If they continue to do that, I do expect to see the growth rate fall over the next week," he told a briefing on Monday, March 30.

"We want to protect the population from this disease. We want to keep them out of the hospital and in ICU. The effort needs to continue to ensure there is no spread of the disease and if that happens we will see more favourable scenarios out into the future," he said.    MORE BELOW TWEET

He said that a month ago it had been expected that there would be 15,000 cases by the end of March with 3,000 cases a day presenting. To flatten the curve he said a series of public health measures have been taken over the past two weeks. He said there has been a 'huge decrease' in the growth rate.

"The good news is that we are far below that unmitigated scenario...So the measures that the State has imposed and the public have complied with very very strongly are having an enormous effect on the actual number of cases," he said.

He said the impact of school closures should be noticed by this stage but it will be into next week before the impact of the lockdown is seen. He said it is not possible to know when as surge will come or what the full effect of the measures will be in suppressing the spread.

"There is no room for complacency. We've got the growth rate down from 33% to 15% we need to get that very close to zero to manage the outbreak," he said.

Prof Nolan said anybody who thinks they have the disease has a crucial role to play.

"Clearly we are flattening the curve. By definition that pushes the peak further out. That is good news that is what we want...but the bottom line is we really need to suppress that curve to make it a manageable epidemic. That is why the key message is that if you suspect that you have this disease you really must ensure you infect nobody else. If you infect more than one person on average it will be difficult to manage this," he said. 

He said the modelling has carried out by a team of over 50 people in universities and other sectors.

Research carried out for Amarach for the Department of Health show that 89% of the public are happy with measures while 94% confident that they can abide with what they have been asked to do. He said 84% are adapting their behaviour to the measures.