Public urged to stay vigilant as staggering level of January COVID-19 infection revealed
Daily infection rates of COVID--19 may be dropping but authorities are asking people to stay safe as the alarming levels of coronavirus in January were revealed.
More cases of the deadly infection were reported in the HSE North East area in January 2021 than in the whole of 2020. HSE Public Health North East, An Garda Síochána, and Cavan County Council are urging the public to stay at home and protect communities.
They are appealing to the people of Cavan and Monaghan to exert extra efforts in tackling COVID-19 in their communities, to continue to abide by the restrictions by staying at home and following public health advice to stop the spread of the virus.
Statistics show that 11,764 COVID-19 cases were reported in the North East in 2020 up to the end of December. Provisional data to the end of January indicates that 12,463 COVID-19 cases were reported in the region since the beginning of this year. There have been more cases reported in January 2021, than in the whole of 2020.
In the last 14 days, up to January 20, there were 369 new cases of COVID-19 in Cavan and 657 cases in Monaghan.
Director of Public Health North East, Dr Augustine Pereira, said there should be no complacency as we experience a slight decrease in daily infection rates: “When the number of new COVID-19 cases decrease, our natural inclination is to drop our guard, which leads to more cases in the community. So long as COVID-19 remains widespread in our community, it continues to present a high risk for our vulnerable population, particularly those in our hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities.”
“This latest surge of COVID-19 infections in the community is putting greater pressure on our health services across the region. As our health services treat a significant number of patients with COVID-19, it is essential, now more than ever, that we continue to play our part to bring the infection rates down to suppress the spread of this virus.”
“Whilst it seems that this virus is relentless, there is a brighter horizon ahead. The vaccine is currently being rolled out in nursing homes and amongst frontline healthcare workers across the region, for now we need to hold firm,” Dr Pereira warned.
The message was reiterated by Chief Superintendent for the Cavan/Monaghan Garda Division, Aidan Glacken. Thanking the public for their continued cooperation throughout the pandemic, particularly in the last number of weeks, Chief Superintendent Glacken acknowledged that it is “extremely hard on people”.
“While we are seeing some improvements in the COVID-19 transmission rates, as a result of the public engaging positively and heeding the advice of our public health officials, there is still a long way to go. A small number of people are putting themselves, their loved ones and everyone they come into contact with at risk by not complying with public health regulations,” the Chief Super said.
He explained that the authorities were taking action to address those flouting the rules: “People undertaking non-essential journeys are liable for a fine of €100. In addition, Gardaí can now issue people with a fine for organising a party in their house or for attending such a gathering. The fine for organising a house party is €500 and attending a house party is €150.”
“An Garda Síochána continues to provide support for the public health measures through high visibility patrolling, checkpoints, and by providing assistance the most vulnerable in our communities enabling them to stay home and stay safe. All these efforts are being undertaken to protect our communities and save lives,” Chief Superintendent Glacken said.
The Chief Executive of Cavan County Council, Tommy Ryan, hailed the efforts of the community in turning the tide against the virus: “We have seen over the past week how the sacrifices and solidarity of communities across Cavan have started to drive down case numbers, but we are not yet where we need to be,” said Mr Ryan.
“Our health system locally, and nationally, is still under great strain following the resurgence of the virus and so, I urge the people of Cavan to continue to heed public health advice and to stay at home to help stop community transmission of COVID-19.
For those who are medically vulnerable or otherwise isolated, remember that help is at hand. If you require assistance with essentials such as shopping, medicine, or transport to essential appointments, the Cavan Community Call Helpline can assist you. Call Freephone 1800 300 404 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. Lines are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday,” he added.
The most important action we can take to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 is to follow the public health advice:
- stay at home, other than for essential reasons
- ensure regular hand washing
- practice good respiratory hygiene
- keep 2m between yourself and other people
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- wear a mask