Concerns over an increase in COVID-19 cases in Louth and Meath during the past week

The Public Health Department North East are appealing to people in Louth and Meath to pay particular attention to public health advice due to concerns over an increase in COVID-19 cases in Louth and Meath during the past week.

In the latest figures, covering the 14 day incidence rate from 28/09/2021 to 11/10/2021, the highest LEA rates in Meath were electoral areas of Kells LEA with an incidence rate of 549.4 cases per 100,000 population, Navan LEA with an incidence rate of 543.9 cases per 100,000 population, Ratoath LEA with an incidence rate of 531.2 cases per 100,000 of population. The highest LEA rate in Louth was the electoral areas of Dundalk Carlingford LEA with an incidence rate of 500 cases per 100,000 population. These rates compare to a national incidence rate of 394.2/100,000 of population.

Dr Augustine Pereira, Director of Public Health North East, said: “The Department of Public Health North East continues to monitor COVID-19 epidemiological indicators to quickly detect, understand and communicate emerging issues and trends of concern in the region. Overall, in the North East Public Health department, there was a 42% increase in the number of cases notified to the department during week 41 compared to the previous week.”

“Over the last year and a half, we have all done our bit to keep each other safe, but COVID-19 remains prevalent in our communities. The incidence rates are rising again in our vulnerable population including amongst the elderly, which is beginning to result in increased hospital admissions.”

“While COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities, maintaining public health measures and individual protective practices will be crucial in slowing COVID-19 infection as well as other respiratory infections, to reduce the impact on our healthcare capacity. When the Public Health department has previously issued alerts, we have subsequently seen a reduction in COVID cases over the subsequent weeks. This was only possible because people heard the messages, and heeded our advice and took action.”

“Every action we take to protect ourselves and those around us to keep cases down and can help our communities stay safe. As more of our activities move indoors during the winter months, we are urging the public to be extra vigilant and act responsibly, in order to minimise the spread in the community.”

“We ask that everyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to avail of it as soon as possible. The majority of new cases in recent weeks have been in the unvaccinated age group. You will be looking after yourself, your loved ones, friends, colleagues and community by getting the vaccine. Vaccination is safe and effective way of developing immunity from COVID-19 and reduces the risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. You still need the vaccine to boost your protection, even if you’ve previously had COVID-19.”

Dr Bernadette O’Keefe, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the department said: “If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 or have any concerns, please self-isolate and seek a free PCR test as soon as possible. If you are not yet fully vaccinated and are a close contact of a person who has tested positive, you also need to restrict movements and get a free PCR test.”

“It’s rare for any vaccine to completely protect against infection or transmission, and COVID-19 vaccines are no exception, but we know that COVID-19 infections are much less likely to occur among vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated and when they do occur, people tend to have fewer symptoms that are less severe, and to be ill for fewer days. Even if you have been vaccinated, you must adhere to the public health measures as there is still some chance that you could become infected and pass the virus on to other people who haven’t been vaccinated yet.”

“For now, we must continue to wear a face covering, frequently wash hands, keep a physical distance of two metres, avoid crowded places, and adhere to proper cough and sneeze etiquette. These actions are in our control and are effective. Adhering to the public health guidelines has protected your families, friends and the broader community and we thank you for your persistence. We ask that you continue these efforts and keep your guard up, even if you are fully vaccinated.”