PROVISIONAL data for Wednesday, June 2, shows there were 103 new COVID-19 cases in Limerick - the highest daily figure since January 19.
The Mid-West Major Emergency Management Group is asking people in Limerick, Clare, and North Tipperary to enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend safely and responsibly to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
In the two weeks leading up to June 2, there has been an increase of more than 800 cases in Limerick, 48 cases in Clare, and 32 cases in North Tipperary.
The provisional data released this Thursday lunchtime shows that while there were 103 new COVID-19 cases in Limerick, there were seven cases in Clare, and fewer than five cases in North Tipperary.
While the Covid-19 situation remains stable in Clare and North Tipperary, weekends and occasions with increased activity have led to significant increases in infection levels due to intensified social mixing and organised social gatherings.
The vast majority of new Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks have been associated with indoor gatherings, house parties, household visits, family gatherings, and largely indoor activity.
With the current high incidence rate in the Mid-West, indoor gatherings outside Public Health guidelines are considered high-risk and have had significant knock-on effects in the community, including in workplaces and schools.
As Leaving Certificate exams commence next Wednesday, June 9, health experts are asking the public to be extra conscious of their activity, as students who become new confirmed cases or new close contacts will miss a number of scheduled exams.
The HSE self-referral walk-in and drive-through Covid-19 test centre at St Joseph's Health Campus, Mulgrave Street will continue to operate until next Wednesday, June 9.
This free service is led by the National Ambulance Service, with the support of HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare and Public Health Mid-West.
Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Michael Collins said: “As the summer well and truly begins, my hope is that everyone can enjoy their bank holiday weekend as safely as possible. We have sacrificed so much as a society over the past year or so, that we need to remain resilient and continue to guard against Covid."
He added: "I know it’s difficult and can be challenging for some, but we cannot give an inch especially since we are so close to getting back to some semblance of normality. We need to stay strong and continue to follow the health guidance, but I want to enjoy the holidays at the same time.”
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “We are cognisant of the fact that many people will be looking forward to enjoying the long weekend, especially as the hospitality sector starts to reopen. However, I would like to appeal everyone to continue following Public Health guidelines when meeting with friends and family; to stay outdoors, wear masks, socially distance, limit your contacts, and avoid crowded or congested areas to reduce your risk of catching Covid-19."
Dr Mannix added she and her colleagues are currently going through a period of active case finding, allowing us to track, trace, and follow the disease in the region. "Things will get worse before they get better, but we are hopeful we will overcome this outbreak with the help of the public availing of walk-in testing and adhering to Public Health guidelines,” she said.
Supporting the appeal, Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said: “We are making great progress with the vaccination programme but a significant proportion of the population does not have that protection. People in all age groups are at risk of becoming severely ill due to Covid-19. A sustained high incidence in Covid-19 transmission across the Mid-West has the potential to cause severe disruption in our hospitals when they are attempting to recover from a devastating cyber attack that has already resulted in significant cancellations and delays for patients.”
HSE Mid West Community Healthcare Chief Officer, Maria Bridgeman said: "I want to thank the people of Limerick, Clare and Tipperary for their continued efforts in suppressing Covid-19. While we hope that as many people as possible will enjoy themselves this weekend, it is important that all of us remain mindful of the public health advice. Covid testing is continuing throughout the weekend, with no appointment needed for those attending our sites in Limerick, Ennis and Nenagh. I would encourage anyone who feels that they may need a test to avail of this service without delay."
Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche, head of the Limerick Garda Division, is also appealing to people to abide by the public guidelines over the bank holiday weekend.
“Gardai understand that people want to and are allowed to meet up outdoors but it must be in line with public health guidelines. If you find yourself in a crowded outdoor area, leave that area and spread out somewhere else. It is not the sole responsibility of an Garda Siochana to control crowds and encourage people to follow the guidelines, we are all responsible for our own actions.”
Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council said: "We want everyone to enjoy the upcoming bank holiday weekend. It has been such a long time since we have been able to enjoy the holidays. It will be lovely to meet with friends and family again but we have to do so in a responsible way. The vaccination programme is working and is a very bright ray of hope.”
However, he is appealing to people to take personal responsibility if meeting up with other people. "We must still remain vigilant and continue to follow the health guidelines, so that our society and economy can open up even further in the weeks and months to come. This re-opening is dependent on every one of us being careful and following the rules. We all have a choice to make. We have seen the impact the various lockdowns have had, and while we don’t want to return to these, it is our actions now which will determine if we do.”
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