‘It’s good news’: Health Minister says virus reproductive rate is staying below 1

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The reproductive rate gives an indication of the number of other people who are infected by a positive case.

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said the virus reproductive rate currently stands at 0.7.

Last week, the minister said the rate was estimated to be between 0.4 and 0.8, adding it was staying “remarkably stable”.

The reproductive rate gives an indication of the number of other people who are infected by a positive case.

Speaking in the Dáil today, the minister said the 0.7 rate is “good news” as it remains below one. The minister said this means we are continuing to suppress the virus.However, Harris added that modeling becomes more difficult when the number of cases is so low. 

The minister also confirmed that there are now 62 patients in hospital with the virus. There are 20 patients in ICU with the virus.

There were 70 people in the ICU when the lockdown restrictions were imposed.

It is a “significant improvement on where we were only a few weeks ago”, he said.

Steroid treatment

Harris also told the Dáil that he has asked the HSE to make the dexamethasone steroid available to treat Covid-19 symptoms.

The move follows an affirmative study in the UK that the drug causes significant drop in patient mortality. 

The drug has been hailed as a “major breakthrough” in the fight against Covid-19 in the UK after it was found to reduce deaths by up to a third among patients on ventilators.

The drug, dexamethasone, is readily available in UK hospitals.

His comments today come as new data is set to be released that will show the virus breakdown for counties and electoral divisions on a daily basis.

The Health Prevention Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is now working on compiling data on the number of days since a Covid-19 case was detected for every county and electoral division in the country.

Dublin Mid West TD for Fine Gael Emer Higgins today received confirmation that the HPSC aims to release the new data for the first time this week and then update it daily.

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“I am delighted that the minister has now agreed to release daily data on the number of days since a positive diagnosis for every county and electoral division in the country.

“This level of detail will provide reassurance to counties free from Covid-19 that their efforts have borne fruit and provide hope to other counties that if we continue to follow the public health advice, we are on the path out of this crisis,” said Higgins.

In the Dáil today, Harris also made an appeal to workers not to go to work if they do not feel well. He said Irish people have a great work ethic, and if they feel unwell, often take two paracetamol and go to work. 

He asked members of the public not to do this, as it risks the spread of the virus. If a worker has one of the the Covid-19 symptoms, they should call their GP for advice and not go to work. 

“You can’t do that during a pandemic,” he said.

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