Ireland’s social distancing measures have saved 10,000 lives, government expert says

Ireland’s social distancing measures have saved 10,000 lives, government expert says

AS MANY as 10,000 more people would have died from COVID-19 were it not for the social distancing measures implemented by the government, Ireland’s Chief Clinical Officer has suggested. 

Speaking at a HSE brief on the coronavirus outbreak, Dr Colm Henry explained that Ireland would have suffered significantly more deaths had the reproduction of the virus remained at the same rate as it was back at the beginning of March. 

According to Dr Henry, the current reproductive (R) number in Ireland is presently between 0.3 and 0.8. 

That means each person infected with the virus will, on average, pass it on to less than one person. 

By comparison, that figure was between 2.0 and 2.5 in early March. 


Dr Henry said that had that R number continued without the implementation of physical distancing measures, Ireland would likely have seen 12,000 deaths by the end of last week. 

Instead, that figure is 1,195 as of yesterday morning. 

"It’s worth considering that if that R value had remained at 2.4 - which is not even the highest it would have been at the peak of its infectivity - we would have seen 12,000 deaths by May 7,” he said. 

The number of people in Intensive Care Units across Ireland have halved since the start of April. 

Additionally, Dr Henry noted that the number of people testing positive for the virus has fallen from 20% to around 3% while just 72 people remained in ICVs as of Saturday, which was significantly down on the previous peak of 160. 

With a further 543 people in hospitals with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 and another 196 suspected cases, Ireland is also continuing to take tentative steps towards lifting restrictions. 

However, Health Minister Simon Harris has urged the public to stick with the social distancing measures still in place in order to ensure that number of 72 is not added to.