5 positives to take from the latest Irish coronavirus figures
New cases are slowing down
Professor Philip Nolan who is managing the modelling data of coronavirus in Ireland gave an encouraging update. He said modellers are seeing "a very considerable slowing in the growth of the epidemic." He showed a graph showing the cumulative growth rate of cases each day as a total of the previous day's total. He said this growth rate has been "very stable" at around 5% for over a week. In terms of a different metric that charts new cases and has added the German lab results chronologically, he said the rate of growth has been close to zero since April 3.
The reproductive rate is below 1
Perhaps the most important metric in measuring the scale of the epidemic and its impact on the population is the reproductive rate which is the number of people one infected person will go on to infect. This was over 4 in Ireland at the beginning of the pandemic with experts advising it had to get below 1. With a reproduction rate below 1, the virus would effectively die out in a population. Since lockdown restrictions were introduced in Ireland that rate has steadily fallen and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said on Thursday that the data now suggests this metric is between 0.7 and 1, another encouraging sign we are getting the virus under control.
Hospital and ICU numbers are down
HSE figures released earlier this week show the number of people being admitted to hospital has fallen significantly. This follows a sharp rise in numbers since the beginning of March as the virus took hold. Both the numbers and the rate of admission are now falling. The same can be said for ICU admissions.
Testing is increasing
Earlier this month we were carrying out just 1,500 tests a day but that number has now surpassed 5,000 a day and new chemicals sourced by the National Virus Reference Laboratory last week will allow that number of daily tests to increase to 10,000. Testing criteria is also due to be relaxed next week so we can find more cases, contact-trace and better manage the virus in the population. This ramping up of testing capacity is key to any relaxation of measures beyond May 5, according to the Chief Medical Officer.
People are recovering
While there is a significant issue with deaths in residential care homes, people of all ages are still recovering from coronavirus, giving hope to many. Just this week, the Offaly village of Rhode welcomed home Mary Jo Kilmurray, an 84-year-old woman who successfully beat the deadly virus in Tullamore Hospital. Not only that, but she also recovered from a broken hip after a six-week stint in hospital. You can watch her homecoming HERE.