'Serious concerns' as Ireland's Covid-19 R number rises close to 2.0
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'Serious concerns' as Ireland's Covid-19 R number rises close to 2.0

IRELAND'S Covid-19 reproduction number - also known as the R number - has risen to 1.8, something the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) say is a "serious concern".

On Thursday, the Department of Health announced that 69 further cases of coronavirus had been confirmed, while five further people had died as a result of the virus.

Case numbers have been on the rise for over a week now and with schools scheduled to reopen in the next few weeks, the government is desperate to get things under control.

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said on Thursday: "We have seen a significant increase in the incidence of COVID-19 over the past week.

"The reproduction number for the virus is now estimated to be 1.8.

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"A reproduction number of almost two is a serious concern, and although we have not yet seen a significant increase in community transmission, there is a significant risk this could develop over the coming days and weeks emphasising the need for each of us to be extremely cautious that we do not contribute to the transmission of the virus."

The concerns come amid speculation that Ireland could be set to impose localised lockdowns in three counties following sharp rises in coronavirus cases.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn yesterday issued a warning to the people of Kildare, Laois and Offaly that lockdown restrictions could be imposed if case numbers don't improve.

In total, 26,372 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Ireland while 1,768 have died from the virus, according to the Department of Health.