05 Jul 2022

Laois is the midlands hotspot for Covid-19 with high incidence in all parts

Signs of improvement as Delta wave ebbs

covid-19 laois portlaoise

Covid-19 heat map for the two weeks to August 2. Darker areas shows parts of counties with higher incidences

Laois has had one of the highest recorded incidence rates of Covid-19 in Ireland through July with the county worse of than any other midlands and most Leinster counties as the Delta wave swept through unchecked.

While there are signs the situation is improving in August, the second half of July saw some 400 cases identified in Laois with the most densely parts of the county worst hit. Rural areas have not escaped.

The latest Local Electoral Area (LEA) figures as published on August 5 on the Covid-19 Ireland data hub breakdown covers the period from July 20 to August 2.

These figures show that there were 153 new cases in the Portlaoise LEA over the two weeks. This contrasts with 127 cases in the county town up to July 26. The 14 day population incidence on August 2 was 481.2 per 100,000 people which contrasts with 399.4 per 100k up to July 26.

The two week Republic of Ireland rate 372.6 per 100k on August 2.

The rapid worsening of the situation in the Portlaoise area is revealed when contrasted with earlier in July. Figures show that there there were 58 new cases in the district between July 13 and 26 when the LEA incidence rate was  182.4 per 100,000 population.

The population of the Portlaoise LEA is 31,794 people with more than 20,000 living in the county town environs. It includes Abbeyleix, Ballyroan and Ballinakill. It borders Kilkenny.

The latest figures from the Portarlington Graiguecullen LEA show it has the highest incidence in Laois but the situation has improved a little on the previous reporting period.

There were 164 new cases in the district in the fortnight to August 2. This produced an incidence of 583.7 per 100 k.

The improvement is found when compared to the two weeks previous. There were 178 new cases in the area in the 14 days to July 26. This gave an LEA rate per 100k of 633.5 one of the worst in Ireland at the time.

There were 92 new cases up to July 19 compared with 25 new cases in the 14 days to July 12. The incidence rate has risen from 89 per 100k at the end of June. 

The population in this LEA is 28,096. Apart from the two big towns, it includes Stradbally, the home of the Electric Picnic which has been refused a licence due to Covid-19.

Other communites in the district include Timahoe, Ballylinan, Ballyadams, Killeshin, Crettyard, Killenard, Ballybrittas. It borders Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny and Offaly. MORE BELOW LINK.

The situation has improved marginally in the largely rural Mountmellick / Borris-in-Ossory LEA.

There were 85 new cases in the second half of July giving an incidence of 342.6 per 100 k. This contrasts with 91 new cases in the two weeks to July 26 when the population rate was 366.8 per 100k.

The rapid spread of Covid-19 in Laois is best reflected in this area when the figures at the end of June are examined.

In the 14 days to June 28 there were less than 5 cases in the Borris / Mountmellick LEA while the incidence was also less than 5 cases per 100k. 

The district is less populated than the others however Mountmellick is close to Portlaoise. With 24,807 people it includes Rathdowney, Mountrath, Durrow, Castletown, Camross, Errill, Clonaslee and Rosenallis. It borders Tipperary, Offaly and Kilkenny.

Health Protection Surveillance Centre figures up to August 2 revealed that while the incidence remained high, the situation in Laois is improving.

The 14 day incidence was 479.4 per 100 k on the back of 406 new cases. However, just 40% or 162 of these had been detected in the previous seven days. The incidence over seven days in Laois to August 2 was 191.3 per 100 k.

More up to date figures show further improvement.

HPSC figures up to August 3 show that there were 372 cases in Laois in the previous 14 days, giving a two week incidence rate of 439.2 per 100k. Just over 38%, or 143 of these were spotted in the previous seven days, which included the August Bank Holiday weekend. The seven day incidence to August 3 had fallen to 168.8 per 100 k.

At one stage during July, Laois had the second highest incidence of the disease in Ireland. The county has now improved to the 14th highest.

Vaccination accelerated in Laois during the last week of July with teenagers getting the jab and walk-in clinics operating at the vaccination hub in Portlaoise. July also saw the highest number of vaccines administered at the Laois hub for any month since it opened in April.

Remarkably, Offaly has the lowest incidence on August 3 as the Dealta virus swept Ireland. It had the highest level of the disease for several weeks during the deadly third wave in early 2021. 

Vaccination has meant hospitalisations have dropped. There was one patient in Portlaoise hospital and one patient in Tullamore hospital by 8pm on August 3. Neither was in ICU.

NPEHT reported that as of midnight, Wednesday 4 August, there were 1,491 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of 8am Wednesday, 193 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 28 are in ICU.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health urged people to avail of vaccines at centres in Porlaoise and elsewhere.

“Vaccination offers a real way out of this pandemic. The positive news is that take-up in Ireland is extremely high, which shows people understand the benefits for themselves and for their communities of getting vaccinated. Those with at least a first dose in the over 40s is over 90%, in the over 30s it is 84%, in the 18 to 29 year age group it is over 73%, and in the 16-17 year age group, it is over 46%. These figures continue to increase, and each person who has come forward should be commended.

“It’s understandable that after the period of time that COVID-19 has been with us, that some people become tired of it. But the virus does not become tired. It doesn’t care if we are fed up, it only sees the opportunity to spread from person to person when we let our guard down". More below link.

“Risk assess your plans this weekend. Remember that if you have any cold or flu like symptoms at all, you should err on the side of caution and stay at home - do not meet up with others, and do not go to work. If you are an employer, remind your employees to continue working from home where possible for now, and not to attend work with any COVID-19 symptoms. Vaccines work, but they must also be supported by us all choosing to act as safely as possible,” concluded Dr Holohan.

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