Dr Mai Mannix, director of Public Health Mid West
Following confirmation that the number of cases of Covid-19 in Limerick has now passed 10,000, the Department of Public Health Mid-West is expressing concern over a recent pattern of household clusters.
Since the pandemic began nearly a year ago, there have been more than 16,700 recorded cases of the disease in the Mid-West - the majority of which were in Limerick.
Public Health Mid West says since the B117 strain (UK variant) has become the dominant variant in Ireland, it has noticed a concerning pattern where single cases are rapidly leading to whole household outbreaks.
"In many instances, we are seeing household outbreaks spread to extended family, workplaces, and further community clusters. In some cases, we have seen sections of housing estates and a number of apartments within the same building becoming infected due to social mixing," said a spokesperson who added that the wearing of masks and distancing measures within households has helped prevent the spread of infection.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: "Household transmission is becoming a significant factor for infection in the Mid-West region. A large number of new clusters are arising out of regular household visits, across all age groups. Whether it’s having tea at a friend’s or watching a sports game together at the weekend, all forms of social contact in a household and can and will lead to outbreaks amid current continued community transmission."
Dr Mannix is also reiterating the importance of getting tested quickly: "If you or a member of your household is showing mild symptoms, please contact your GP to consider booking a test. By getting swabbed, you could save a life.”
While the incidence rate of Covid-19 in the Mid-West has fallen considerably since the Level 5 restrictions were implemented in early January, the rate in Limerick remains slightly above the national rate.
At the peak of the Third Wave, there were 901 new cases on January 2 compared to 23 new cases on February 2.
"We are still managing serious outbreaks in long-term care facilities and workplaces. The new variant seems to be more transmissible with higher numbers of infections from each new case," said a spokesperson.