by Frank Schnittger
Sat Mar 28th, 2020 at 12:25:46 PM EST
The number of new confirmed cases of Covid-19 surged by 302 yesterday, the highest daily increase so far. There are now a total of 2,121 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland and 22 deaths to date. Update [2020-3-28 20:11:29 by Frank Schnittger]: 294 new cases and 14 new deaths today. Update [2020-3-29 18:27:1 by Frank Schnittger]: 200 new cases and 10 new deaths 29/3 - the first significant reduction in new cases in the series...[end update] The total number of cases has been doubling roughly every 4/5 days, which is somewhat better than was forecast at the start of the outbreak. Up to last Wednesday, 419 patients had been hospitalised with the disease and 59 of these had been admitted to ICU.
Given the shortage of ICU beds hospitals are now operating at close to capacity and the government has just issued its strictest restrictions yet, basically saying everyone should stay at home for the next two weeks except for the purposes of buying essential food or medical supplies or a much more tightly defined list of essential work.
It is a lockdown in all but name, and pretty much the last shot in the governments locker - one last attempt to "flatten the curve" and, if possible, suppress the disease. Compliance, so far, seems to be high. The first death of a healthcare worker is adding to the sombre mood, although the situation doesn't seem to be quite as chaotic as in the UK's NHS, h/t ThatBritGuy.
Given the delays in testing people and obtaining the test results, the rate of positive tests appearing now probably reflects what was happening in the community just over a week ago. An increasing number of positive tests results relate to what is called "community transmission" where no obvious vector (a previously identified positive case) or foreign travel can be identified. This is making contact tracing a less effective tool for containing the pandemic.
The measures announced yesterday appear to be an attempt to trap the virus in the homes of whoever has contracted it, in the hope that at least those vectors will be eliminated over the next two weeks. It is a last, desperate, throw of the dice. People can't be kept in complete lock-down indefinitely, and the economic costs are piling up.
Meanwhile, the situation elsewhere seems almost completely out of control, with the USA, UK, and Netherlands - countries slow to get their act together - moving rapidly up the new infections and mortality table, despite a lack of testing and alleged failures to properly record the cause of death as being related to Covid-19 in many cases. Italy's case/mortality rate is still increasing beyond 10%, with Spain not far behind, giving a preview of what failure looks like when even relatively good health systems are overwhelmed.
Time to batten down the hatches. The storm is coming...