Major concern has been expressed about the volume of new cases of COVID-19 that has occurred in the Midlands over the last two weeks.
In the 14 days up until Thursday, 226 cases had arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly - this is almost half of all cases in Ireland over that time period.
"While the majority of these cases can be accounted for by outbreaks, this volume of cases is significant and our main priority now is to ensure that these outbreaks do not lead to widespread community transmission in the region.
"NPHET continues to monitor the situation closely. I urge people in these counties to remain vigilant to stop the further spread of COVID-19 in these areas," commented acting chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn.
Some 69 new cases of the virus were notified on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Republic to 26,372. Of the 69 cases, 22 were located in Offaly, 19 in Kildare, eight in Laois, six in Dublin, while the remaining 14 were spread across eight other counties.
According to Prof Philip Nolan, chairperson of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, there has been "a significant increase in the incidence of COVID-19 over the past week".
"The reproduction number for the virus is now estimated to be 1.8. A reproduction number of almost 2 is a serious concern, and although we have not yet seen a significant increase in community transmission, there is a significant risk this could develop over the coming days and weeks, emphasising the need for each of us to be extremely cautious that we do not contribute to the transmission of the virus," he commented.
Dr Glynn is urging everybody, particularly those living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, to be aware of the symptoms of the virus and to self-isolate and contact their GP if they are displaying any. The symptoms to watch out for are:
-A fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above)
-A cough - this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
-Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
-Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
For more information on the public health measures in place currently, click here.
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