16 Jan 2022

Concern over 'sharpest increase' in Covid cases in Limerick since beginning of third wave

People confirmed to have Covid-19 in Limerick encouraged to be open with contact tracers

Director of Public Health Mid-West Dr Mai Mannix

THE Department of Public Health Mid-West is encouraging people in Limerick who have symptoms of Covid-19 or who have concerns they may have been exposed to the disease are being encouraged to attend one of the two free walk-in test centres in Limerick.

Provisional data shows more than 680 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Limerick in the two week period between May 16 and May 30. There were more than 60 cases in Clare and more than 30 in North Tipperary during the same period. 

There has been a particular spike in Limerick cases over the past 10 days, including 90 cases on Friday, 53 on Saturday, and 59 cases on Sunday. "This is the sharpest increase in Covid-19 cases since before the onset of the ‘third wave’ in December," said a spokesperson. 

The reasons for the recent surge in case numbers includes high-risk social indoor activity such as house parties and family  gatherings and events; multi-household clusters as a result of social mixing; poor and inconsistent infection prevention and control practices in workplaces, outbreaks in creches and schools and a high incidence rate in the community.

Commenting on the recent figures, Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said the high attendance at the walk-in testing centres has allowed public health experts to gauge and understand the extent of the situation, and to evaluate trends and behaviours that are contributing to the current large community outbreak.

"While the figures are of serious concern as we face increasing pressure amid the cyber attack, I am hopeful that a strong community response of availing of walk-in testing, and being extra cautious with Public Health guidelines, will put us in a more secure position in the coming weeks. This was achieved following the community outbreak in Nenagh, and I know it can be done again," she said.

“I would also like to appeal to the public to be considerate of students who are preparing for Leaving Cert exams next week. Unfortunately, any student who is a new confirmed case or a new close contact will be at risk of missing exams,” Dr Mannix added.

Dr Marie Casey, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, who is leading the department’s Safe Work Stops Covid information campaign, said: “I would encourage people returning to work to avail of the walk-in testing in Limerick, as we continue to manage new outbreaks in workplaces, such as small retailers, hair salons and beauticians, offices, and factories over the past two weeks. We can reduce the impact of Covid-19 in our workplaces by wearing masks from the carpark to the desk at all times even if distancing, socially distancing as much as possible, improving ventilation by opening windows and doors fully, and facilitating staff to get vaccinated and avail of testing. It is also important to be vigilant for symptoms of Covid and if it doubt, go for a Covid test."

Members of the public are being advised that the free walk-in and drive-through Covid-19 testing clinic at St Joseph’s Health Campus, Mulgrave Street will continue to operate between 11am and 6.15pm until this Wednesday. 

The service is being led by the National Ambulance Service, with support from HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare and Public Health Mid-West.

The walk-in and drive-through at Unit 6D Eastpoint Business Park, Ballysimon Road is operating on a self-referral basis between from 8am and 4pm daily and by appointment only between 4pm and 7pm.

At times over the past week, there have been significant queues at both testing clinics and those which access to transport are asked to consider attending the walk-in testing centres in Nenagh or Ennis.

The free walk-in testing service is for those who have Covid-19 symptoms and for people who are concerned that they may have been exposed to Covid infection in the past two weeks.

Children can get tested if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian and those who attend must bring a photo ID and provide a mobile phone number so they can be contacted you their results.

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