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Ireland placed on full Level 5 restrictions for a month

Ireland placed on full Level 5 restrictions for a month

Hospital admissions with the coronavirus are on the rise

Alarmed by the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in Ireland despite harsh restrictions already in place, the government has decided to place the entire country on full Level 5 curbs. The restrictions took effect on 31 December and will remain at least until 31 January, depending on how the situation unfolds.

Stay-at-home order

As part of the new regime, no household can admit outside visitors unless they are from its support bubble or the visit is for essential family reasons. Stay-at-home order is issued with a number of exemptions - travel for work, education or other essential purposes, or exercise within 5 km of one’s home.

Only essential retail outlets and services, including food stores and pharmacies, can operate. People are told to work from home, unless they are employed at healthcare, social care or other essential services that cannot be provided remotely. Weddings are capped at 6 guests from 3 January and funerals – at 10 mourners.

Only professional sports can continue without audience. Outdoor tennis and golf are not permitted, as well as outdoor or indoor exercise activities. Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools close.

No organised outdoor gatherings should take place. Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions are closed. Bars, cafes and restaurants (including those in hotels) can provide takeaway or delivery services only. Hotels and other accommodation establishments can be open for non-tourist purposes.

Primary and secondary schools are set to reopen on 11 January.

Worse than reported numbers suggest

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has warned that additional measures may be required if there is continued deterioration. In a letter to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, quoted by RTE, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, recommends that strict Level 5 "stay at home measures" are to be introduced for six weeks – the minimum time needed to bring the coronavirus R number down.

Professor Philip Nolan, chairman of the NPHET's Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, told RTE that there are thousands of positive cases still awaiting official confirmation and the situation in Ireland is actually worse than the number of daily new cases reported since Christmas would suggest.

The computer system for notifying infectious diseases is outdated; it was designed to report sporadic cases on a weekly basis and not the current wave of daily infections, he explained. The number of hospital admissions continues to rise and even if the R number was brought below one, there could still be a peak of 700 to 1 000 people in hospital with Covid-19 by early to mid January.

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