Joint Statement from the Public Health Department North East, Louth GAA and Louth County Council

A joint message from the Department of Public Health HSE North East, Louth GAA and Louth County Council

16th July, 2021:The Department of Public Health North East, Louth GAA and Louth County Council are appealing to people in Louth to continue to follow public health advice due to concernsover a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in Louth, connected to sporting events and social gatherings in recent weeks.

The Department of Public Health North East have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in Ardee, Drogheda Rural, Dundalk Carlingford and Dundalk South Electoral Areas in recent weeks.

The latest figures, covering the 14 day incidence during 29th June to 12th July, reported the electoral areas in Ardee with an incidence rate of 244.9 cases per 100,000 of population, Drogheda Rural with an incidence rate of 184.6 cases per 100,000, Dundalk Carlingford 269.5 cases per 100,000 and Dundalk South with an incidence rate of 265.1 cases per 100,000 of population. This compares to a national incidence rate of 150.8/100,000 of population.

Activities contributing to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the community include; indoor and outdoor social gatherings, sporting events, summer camps, family celebrations, house parties and onward transmission into workplaces.

Dr Augustine Pereira, Director of Public Health North East, said: “The high incidence rates we are seeing in Louth reflects how serious the situation can become in a matter of days and weeks. We have not seen this level of infection since early February, which is aworrying trendand shows that this virus is prevalent in our communities. Once the Delta variant gets into a community, it spreads much easier than we have seen previously and there is a greater chance of outbreaks.”

“The majority of new cases in recent weeks have been in the unvaccinated age group We are appealing to teenagers and those in their twenties and thirties in particular to reduce their social contacts and to avoid attending house parties. The 15-24 year age group accounted for almost 50% of cases in Louth last week. This is why we are urging everyone to be extra vigilant, act responsibly, and adhere to public health guidelines.”

“Thanks to vaccines, we are close to the end of the worst impact of the pandemic, therefore we ask if you are not yet vaccinated, to please continue to manage your contacts, meet outdoors, avoid crowded settings and not to socialise indoors as you await your vaccine.”

Dr Pereira added: “If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, please isolate and seek a free PCR test as soon as possible. Common COVID-19 symptoms of the Delta variant that is the circulating strain now also include a sore throat, runny nose or headaches. It is important at this point, for people with mild symptoms to also seek a free test.”

“If you are not yet fully vaccinated and a close contact of a person that has tested positive for COVID-19, you also need to isolate and get a free PCR test.”

Louth GAA Chairperson, Peter Fitzpatrick, said: “Louth is once more experiencing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. As a community the people of Louth must work together to ensure that this virus does not take hold and shut down society. We have been through so much over the past 15 months and now is the time to come together and work as a team to beat this latest spike in numbers. I would urge everybody to follow the public health advice and also I would urge everybody to apply and avail of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Joan Martin, Chief Executive of Louth County Council is encouraging the people of Louth to follow all public health advice and stay safe.

“I want to particularly appeal to young people, we need you to keep up with adhering to public health advice. We know it’s hard, but it is helping to keep our communities safe. The people of Louth have shown on numerous occasions how a county with high incidence rates of COVID-19 can bring infection numbers to single-figure digits when communities band together by adhering to public health advice. Close collaboration between Public Health North East and Louth County Council will continue and be strengthened in the coming days and weeks to address the concerning trend in case numbers in Louth.”

*This is provisional data and is subject to change due to validation