There were three further deaths and 1,205 new cases reported in the State by the National Public Health Emergency (Nphet) team on Thursday.
This is the highest number of new confirmed cases in a day, as the previous high of 1,515 on April 10th included a large backlog from Germany laboratories.
There is now a total of 1,838 coronavirus related deaths and 46,429 confirmed cases in Ireland.
Of today’s cases 288 are in Dublin, 173 in Cork, 123 in Meath, 97 in Galway, 63 in Cavan and the remaining 461 cases are spread across all remaining counties.
As of 2pm today, 241 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 29 are in ICU. There has been 24 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Thursday evening, “There has been further increases across all key indicators of COVID-19 and the growth rate of the epidemic has accelerated since Nphet last met.
“Cases notified over the past week have increased by 82 per cent compared with the previous seven days, from 3,514 to 6,382 cases.
“The positivity rate over the past 7 days is now 6.2 per cent and is continuing to increase.”
“The 14-day incidence in those aged 65 years and older has increased from 92.9 per 100,000 population on 7th October to 125 per 100,000 population on the 14th of October.
“The number of hospitalisations are increasing faster than the exponential growth modelling predicted. This indicates a rapidly deteriorating disease trajectory nationally.”
Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer said; “There is now a deteriorating epidemiological landscape across the EU. Many EU countries are experiencing increasing hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths related to Covid-19.
“Our priorities remain focused on protecting the medically and socially vulnerable, protecting childcare and education settings and preventing unnecessary disruption to non-Covid health and social care services.”
Level 4 ‘likely but not inevitable’
The latest figures come as a senior Government minister said it is “likely” but “not inevitable” the State will have to go to heightened Level 4 restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said he hoped that the “enhanced Level 3” measures would have an impact on the rising levels of transmissions.
People must now make choices. Stop meeting up in groups, stop socialising, stop organising play dates, parties and other social activities.
— Dr Ronan Glynn (@ronan_glynn) October 14, 2020
Today, we again report a new confirmed case figure over 1,000. This situation is extremely concerning.
We each need to reduce contact with other people, so that means staying at home, working from home where possible, physical distancing & stopping discretionary socialising. https://t.co/JIs4OXFw7n
— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) October 14, 2020
The Government announced on Wednesday night a nationwide ban on visits to homes or gardens in almost all circumstances, except for providing care to children or elderly and vulnerable people.
It has also announced that Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal will move to Level 4 of the Government’s Living with Covid plan from midnight on Thursday until November 10th.
Under Level 4, people should not have any visitors to their homes, the maximum number of attendees at a wedding is six, non-essential retail will close, and all non-essential workers are to work from home, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said as he announced the move. He said construction and manufacturing will remain under the right conditions.
Under the new restrictions for the 23 Level 3 counties, people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six people from up to two households in outdoor settings away from home and garden while maintaining social distancing – including for exercise and dining. The existing exemption which allows for Club Championship games to be played behind closed doors has been removed and sports teams will be told they cannot train unless social distancing can be observed.
Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal will move to Level 4 of the Government’s Living with Covid plan from midnight on Thursday until November 10th.
There were 1,095 new cases and five further deaths reported in the State by the National Public Health Emergency (Nphet) team on Wednesday.
This is the highest number of new confirmed cases in a day, as the previous high of 1,515 on April 10th included a large backlog from German laboratories.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast on Thursday Mr Harris said he was very worried about the rising number of Covid-19 cases, but he was not “buying into” the idea that it was inevitable the country would have to go to Level 4. “We can get over this.”
If three specific measures were followed by everybody then Level 3 could work, Mr Harris said. The measures were for people to work from home; to curtail home visits and to wear face coverings.
Mr Harris said that if it was necessary the Government would take further measures, but he hoped that following the enhanced Level 3 measures would work.
The director general of the HSE Paul Reid has said that the health service can carry out the target of 100,000 Covid tests per week and had carried out 103,000 tests in the past week with 99,000 lab results completed in the same time period.
“We will always meet demand (for testing),” he told RTÉ radio’s News at One. More than 15,000 tests per day were being carried out, with the figure closer to 18,000 at present, he said.
But the best lines of defence were what the public could do, he added. Their actions could put a drain on that capacity, he warned.
Funding was not a constraint, but everyone was concerned about the hospitalisation numbers which were beginning to have an impact on non-Covid care. This in turn will mean the demand for intensive care beds will build.
There is a real concern about winter services in hospitals. All healthcare workers were very concerned, he said. They don’t want to be the last line of defence. There was now a call to arms to the public to protect heathcare workers.
In the event of a surge the system had capacity for 350 to 360 intensive care beds. Using high dependency and post operative beds could expand that. However, some hospitals were already using their surge capacity, he said.
The growing numbers in nursing homes were also a cause for concern, but it would be impossible to “put a ring of steel” around nursing homes. Again it was up to the public to modify their behaviour.
Dr Colm Henry, the chief clinical officer of the HSE, said on Newstalk Breakfast there was a surge plan in place, if necessary hospitals would curtail other activities, which can protect a surge of up to 350 critical care beds, beyond that “there would not be the same quality of service”.
He said Border was not being used as a measure, focus was on communities and some communities were “right across the Border” and transmission in the community had to be broken.
Announcing the new restrictions on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said there were “concerns regarding the full application of Level 3” including people going into the workplace, slippage in retail and personal services, and people going to each others homes.
Mr Martin said “I know how difficult this is for everyone and I understand the deep frustration people feel”.
“We are on a journey with this virus and we have come to a difficult point in that journey,” Mr Martin said. He said the numbers of infections are “just too high”.
He said data from Northern Ireland is “hugely worrying” and that discussions with Stormont would continue in the coming days.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said “We know that a lot if not most Covid transmission is happening in private homes” .
“Sometimes people associate that with house parties, but it’s not just that,” he said, saying it was family gatherings, and friends coming over for a drink or cup of coffee.”
“All those things have to stop,” he said.