The rate of infection is “exceptionally high”.
With a further 6,521 cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the past 24 hours and ten additional deaths caused by the virus, the Government is considering a crackdown on the sale of alcohol and drinking in the streets to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
“I’ve said a number of occasions before this virus loves alcohol.” Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan told a press conference last night.
“That is a concern for us, and the way in which we have consumed and our pattern of use of alcohol in this country has been a challenge.
“We’re continuing to stress, given the numbers that we’re dealing with here, given the potential role that’s being played by the variants that have been reported, and the increasing role that we think may be played by that we have to do everything we can to try to suppress, and that includes measures in relation to alcohol.”
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar confirmed that efforts are underway to stop the sale of alcohol, specifically ‘takeaway pints’, after a certain time of day.
Dr Holohan said that “anything that can be done to address the role that alcohol may be playing in creating, if you like, the kind of social opportunities, the dropping of the guard, that we all have to keep up, anything we can do to address that would be welcome and… there’s nothing to stop the public taking on board that message.”
571 new cases in Cork
Meanwhile, NPHET has expressed grave concern about the latest surge in infections as they wait to find out if the latest raft of restrictions introduced since Christmas will have an effect.
Of the latest cases, 571 were in Cork, with 2,174 in Dublin, 382 in Limerick, 342 in Waterford, 315 in Wexford and the remaining 2,737 cases spread across all other counties. 3,070 are men and 3,432 are women and 62% are under 45 years of age. The median age of patients is 37 years old.
Right now, 1,043 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 96 are in ICU. There have been 99 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
‘Reproductive number now between 2.4 and 3.0’
Last night, Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, explained that the Reproductive number is now between 2.4 and 3.
“At no point in this pandemic, other than at the very beginning, were we seeing reproduction numbers above 1.4 to 1.6.” Professor Nolan said.
“This week we have to report the reproduction number as being somewhere between 2.4 and 3.0”
Professor Nolan said it’s possible that case number could be starting to plateau at approximately 6,000 per day.
“One of the things that we will be watching very carefully over the next number of days is an indication that the measures that government have mandated and that the public are clearly entering into the spirit of, has it had any effect,” he said.
“Looking at the number of positive tests today, you could draw the conclusion that that is beginning to plateau at around 6,000 per day on average.”
However, it’s also possible that numbers could continue to grow in the coming days: “On the pessimistic side, we could see case numbers plateauing in five/ six days time and about 8,500 cases per day.” said Professor Nolan.