Use Easter break to help stamp out Covid-19 in Clare communities
The Mid-West Major Emergency Management Group is calling on the people of Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary to use the Easter break as an opportunity to stamp out Covid-19 in our communities, so we can reduce the chance of outbreaks in healthcare settings, workplaces, our homes, and schools.
The Mid-West Major Emergency Management Group is a strategic interagency group that includes Clare County Council, the HSE and An Garda Síochána, as well as local authorities in Limerick and Tipperary. It meets regularly to discuss operations in the Mid-West region since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While infection levels are significantly lower than they were in January, progress in suppressing the virus has stagnated in the past two weeks. March 27th saw 65 new cases – the highest daily increase in the Mid-West region in a month.
There is no single cause for the current levels of infection. Some areas of concern include lax behaviours in offices, such as lack of mask-wearing and poor social distancing; indoor social gatherings among young people, such as birthday parties; lack of social distancing and mask-wearing on public transport; family gatherings; and household visits.
We acknowledge the fatigue felt by everyone as we mark a year of the pandemic this month, but we must remember that our efforts have helped prevent further illness and death. The Easter break is a time of year where people tend to socialise more, but our current level of infection means that extra socialising could soon leave us with increasing Covid numbers and a possible fourth wave, when our focus is to protect families and our most vulnerable.
The Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Mary Howard, said: “The public health message is clear. We know what we have to do. I am very conscious that this has been a particularly challenging phase in the Covid-19 battle. As we look ahead to a brighter future, I want to thank the people of Clare for the huge collective effort that has been evident, and I appeal to everyone, once again, to please hold firm this Easter.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, said: “In wishing the people of Clare a peaceful Easter break, I must remind everyone that this weekend is not an occasion to relax our efforts. It is not an occasion for people to socialise, or to travel to holiday homes in Clare or elsewhere. The 5km travel restriction continues to apply throughout Easter, and we must all adhere to this and other measures necessary to suppress the virus. We have come a long way. We cannot, and must not, falter now.”
In March, there were 25 days with less than 10 new Covid-19 cases in Clare. Additionally, Clare’s incidence rate dropped from 140.6 per 100,000 population to 61.4 since March 2nd.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “That is testament to the conscious efforts made by everyone in Clare, from Ardnacrusha to Miltown Malbay, since the challenging peak of the third wave.
“However, because Covid-19 is freely circulating in the community, the direction of Clare’s progress could quickly go the other way if we drop our guards, especially over the Easter break when there is a tendency to socialise more. If people can avoid high-risk situations such as household visits or social gatherings, we massively reduce the chance of the disease spilling into other settings, such as workplaces, healthcare facilities, long-term care homes, schools, and in the community,” Dr Mannix said.
An Garda Síochána has advised that ‘Operation Fanacht’ will see a large number of static and rolling checkpoints across the county of Clare over the bank holiday weekend. Gardaí will be patrolling the parks, beaches and beauty spots in Clare over the coming days and a Fixed Payment Notice of €100 can be issued to a person for travelling without a reasonable excuse.
Chief Superintendent Sean Colleran, Clare Garda Division, said: “Our main priority is keeping people safe and that continues over the coming weeks. In general, Gardaí are finding that people are adhering to the Government guidelines and we want to thank the public for this. However, it is vital that this continues over the coming Easter bank holiday weekend.”
Members of the Mid-West Emergency Management Group
Clare County Council
Clare Garda Division
HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare
Limerick City and County Council
Limerick Garda Division
Public Health Mid-West
Tipperary County Council
Tipperary Garda Division
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