Covid-19 spreading most in families, work and social gatherings says NPHET

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


Maynooth University name institute after Newbridge scientist Kathleen Lonsdale

Prof Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group

Nearly six in every ten Covid-19 infections are happening in households according to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) which has also revealed that most community transmissions are happening at work or socially.

In a statement issued on March 22, Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said, outlined the trend of infection during Level 5 restrictions.

“For the week of the 7th-13th of March, 60% of disease incidence is taking place through close contact transmission and 24% in the community. 59% of transmissions are occurring in households. Outside of the household, almost half of transmissions are occurring in social gatherings and the workplace,” he said.

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said people must work against the virus for weeks to come.

“People have worked exceptionally hard over the past three months to reduce transmission in our communities. We have shown time and again that we can act collectively to protect one another. Please keep this going over the coming weeks.”

 Dr Cillian de Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said the UK variant is now dominant as it spreads easily.

“The B117 variant, Ireland’s most dominant variant of COVID-19 accounts for more than 90% of our cases and is extremely transmissible. Public health advice aims to limit the opportunities this virus has to spread, and it should be noted that B117 does not need much opportunity to do so. The most effective way to stop the spread of this variant and all variants of COVID-19 is to limit your social contacts and follow public health advice,” he said.

Dr Máirín Ryan, Deputy CEO of Health Information Quality Authority and Director of Health Technology Assessment, said the measures taken once followed work to control spread.

“Today, HIQA published an international review on public health measures and strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19. Ireland took a robust approach from the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and maintained low hospitalisations and ICU admissions per million population when compared to other countries.

“All countries with a published risk framework that is applied at national level are currently operating at the highest risk level," she said.

Ms Ryan said all countries included in the report have launched their COVID-19 vaccination programmes, with Israel having the largest share of its population fully vaccinated (47.5%) followed by Switzerland (4.3%) and Denmark (4.2%). In Ireland 3.3% of the population were fully vaccinated by the 12th of March,” she said.

Dr Glynn said it is a very welcome development to see new visitation guidance for nursing homes coming into effect from today.

"As we begin to experience the benefits of vaccination, it is a reminder of what we are collectively working towards, a vaccination rollout that, along with our other protective measures, will end this pandemic," he said.