A further 429 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Wednesday. This brings to 36,155 the total number of cases of the disease in the Republic.
Some 189 of the new cases are in Dublin, and 60 in Cork. There were also 31 cases in Donegal, 28 in Galway, 18 in Kildare, 15 in Wicklow, 15 in Clare, 12 in Limerick, nine in Meath, nine in Louth, seven in Cavan, seven in Longford, six in Laois, five in Offaly, five in Westmeath, with the remaining 14 cases in eight counties.
One further death was reported to NPHET, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,804.
The reproduction number, an indicator of how widely the disease is spreading, now stands at between 1.2 and 1.4, according to Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET epidemiological modelling advisory group. A reproduction number of less than 1 means an epidemic is dying out; a figure greater than 1 signals it is spreading.
“While we are cautiously optimistic about Dublin, we have seen relatively high case numbers in the last few days, and it will be a number of days yet before the pattern is clear,” Prof Nolan told a briefing on Wednesday.
“Case numbers are clearly rising across the country. We need to remain vigilant, to ensure we do not lose the ground that we have gained across the capital city since we moved to Level 3, and to ensure we do not see further deterioration outside the capital.”
Of the new cases, 203 are men and 226 are women. Sixty-five per cent are under 45 years. Officials say 45 per cent are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of cases, while 77 cases involved community transmission.
There are currently 130 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 15 admissions in the past 24 hours, according to acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn.
“Recently we asked everyone to halve their social contacts,” he said. “Reducing the number of people that we meet – and engaging safely with a small core group – remains the cornerstone of our collective effort to reduce the spread of this virus and its impact on our health and the health of the people that we care about.”
He said that while school-age cases were stable, there had been a sharp rise in cases among 19-24 year-olds and the rise in cases among over-65s was of concern.
Older people were at “grave risk” of a spillover of cases among people of working age, he said.
Rejecting the “narrative” that the disease was less severe of dangerous than before, Prof Nolan said Covid-19 was “as fatal as it ever was to some sectors” while young people were vulnerable “in a different way”.
Public health officials gave examples of recent clusters that have occurred in the west.
One cluster of 30 cases arose after a young couple went away for a weekend and attended a house party. This resulted in six to eight cases, and cases in three to four households. On the second day of their trip, they went with friends to a town centre, resulting in four more cases.
They attended a bar, where six people at an adjacent table, and four staff, tested positive. They then went on to a “drinks venue”, where four more cases occurred.
In another cluster of 24 cases involving intergenerational social mixing, the outbreak started in a small rural place where middle-aged people had gathered. There was socialising in a pub and workplace and further transmission occurred in the pub over the weekend. Fourteen of the cases were directly linked to socialising and 11 involved people aged between 45 and 70. In the outbreak, there were three family clusters, three schools were affected and also one workplace.
A third example arose from two student parties on the same night. There was mixing between the parties, leading to 21 cases among those on attendance. One of these people then had dinner with a university friend, who later went to class. Later 15 out of 26 people in the class tested positive, giving 36 cases in total. The students were masked and observed social distancing, but public health officials believe transmission occurred during break-time.
So far, 87 cases have been detected in schools, out of 4,455 tests carried out, the briefing heard.
Source:- The Irish Times
Growing deaths in South Korea spark fears over safety of flu vaccine program – Global News
South Korean officials refused to suspend the country’s seasonal flu inoculation program on Thursday, despite growing calls to do so following the deaths of at least 13 people who were vaccinated in recent days.
Health authorities said they have found no direct links between the deaths, which include a 17-year-old boy, and the vaccines being given under a program to inoculate some 19 million teenagers and senior citizens for free.
“The number of deaths has increased, but our team sees low possibility that the deaths resulted from the shots,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), told parliament.
South Korea ordered 20% more flu vaccines this year to ward off what it calls a “twindemic” of people with flu developing potential COVID-19 complications, and overburdening hospitals over the winter.
“I understand and regret that people are concerned about the vaccine,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said on Thursday, while confirming the free program would go ahead.
“We’re looking into the causes but will again thoroughly examine the entire process in which various government agencies are involved, from production to distribution,” he added.
Are my cold or flu symptoms COVID-19? A doctor breaks it down
The country’s free vaccine program uses doses manufactured by local drug makers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience and Ilyang Pharmaceutical Co, along with France’s Sanofi and Britain’s Glaxosmithkline. The vaccines are distributed by local companies LG Chem Ltd and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., a unit of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd. .
GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience and Boryung declined to comment. Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi and GSK did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
It was not immediately clear if any of the South Korean-manufactured vaccines were exported, or whether those supplied by Sanofi and GSK were also being used in other countries.
Kim Chong-in, leader of the main opposition People Power party, said the program should be halted until the exact causes of the deaths had been verified.
Health authorities said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation into six deaths found no direct connection to the vaccines. No toxic substances were found in the vaccines, and at least five of the six people investigated had underlying conditions, officials said.
The free program has proved controversial from its launch last month. Its start was suspended for three weeks after it was discovered that some 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility.
Officials said 8.3 million people had been inoculated since the program resumed on Oct. 13, with around 350 cases of adverse reactions reported.
The government is also offering a paid vaccine program which, combined with the free program, aims to inoculate about 30 million of the country’s 52-million population. Under the paid program, the purchaser can select the vaccine provider from a larger pool that includes the free vaccine manufacturers plus others.
What’s the different between COVID-19 and the flu? Answering your coronavirus questions
The highest number of deaths in South Korea linked to seasonal flu vaccinations was six in 2005, according to the Yonhap news agency. Officials have said it is difficult to make comparisons to previous years because of the greater numbers of people taking the vaccine this year.
Kim Myung-suk, 65, who is eligible for a free vaccine, was among a growing number of people opting to exercise choice instead.
“Though just a few people died so far, the number is growing and that makes me uneasy,” she told Reuters in Seoul. “So I’m getting a shot somewhere else and will pay for it.”
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Sangmi Cha, Dogyun Kim and Daewoung Kim; editing by Jane Wardell)
© 2020 Reuters
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health – Burns Lake Lakes District News
Alberta Health says 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.
The health agency says the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.
Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan says aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.
He did not say how many people attended the wedding and says specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.
COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province say a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.
McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.
“This is a reminder to all Albertans that this virus is still here and any social gathering carries a risk of exposure,” he said in an email Tuesday.
“It is important that nobody attend if they are feeling ill with even mild symptoms, or if they are awaiting test results.”
He says it is also important that organizers do everything possible to comply with the public health guidance in place, including having enough space for physical distancing between cohorts, following gathering size restrictions and avoiding sharing food and utensils.
The Canadian Press
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South Korea sticks to flu vaccine plan despite safety fears after 13 deaths – CBC.ca
South Korean officials refused to suspend a seasonal influenza inoculation effort on Thursday, despite growing calls for a halt, including an appeal from a key group of doctors, after the deaths of at least 13 of those vaccinated.
Health authorities said they found no direct links between the deaths and the vaccines.
At least 11 of the 13 dead, including a 17-year-old boy, were part of a campaign to inoculate 19 million teenagers and senior citizens for free, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
“The number of deaths has increased, but our team sees low possibility that the deaths resulted from the shots,” the agency’s director, Jeong Eun-kyeong, told Parliament.
South Korea ordered a fifth more flu vaccines this year to ward off what it calls a “twindemic,” or the prospect that people with flu develop coronavirus complications and overburden hospitals in winter.
“I understand and regret that people are concerned about the vaccine,” said Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said, who confirmed the free program would go ahead.
“We’re looking into the causes but will again thoroughly examine the entire process in which various government agencies are involved, from production to distribution.”
Vaccine providers include domestic firms such as GC Pharma, SK Bioscience, Korea Vaccine and Boryung Biopharma, a unit of Boryung Pharm, along with France’s Sanofi.
They supply both the free program and paid services that together aim to vaccinate about 30 million of a population of 52 million.
Of the 13 who died, five received products from SK Bioscience, three from Boryung, two each from GC Pharma and Korea Vaccine and one from Sanofi.
All four domestic firms declined to comment, while Sanofi did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
It was not immediately clear if any of the vaccines made in South Korea were exported, or if those supplied by Sanofi were also being used elsewhere.
Medical association calls for pause
The Korean Medical Association, an influential grouping of doctors, urged the government to halt all inoculation programs for now, to allay public concerns and ensure the vaccines were safe.
Kim Chong-in, leader of the main opposition People Power party, wanted the program halted until the causes of the deaths were verified.
But health authorities have said a preliminary investigation into six deaths found no direct link to the vaccines, with no toxic substances uncovered.
KDCA data on Thursday showed at least seven of the nine people it investigated had underlying conditions.
The free program has proved controversial since it began last month. The launch had been suspended for three weeks after the discovery that about five million doses were kept at room temperature rather than being refrigerated, as required.
Officials said 8.3 million people had been inoculated since the program resumed on Oct. 13, with about 350 cases of adverse reactions reported.
A separate paid program allows buyers to pick from a larger pool of firms that make free vaccines and others.
The most deaths in South Korea linked to seasonal flu vaccinations was six in 2005, the Yonhap news agency said. Officials have said comparisons to previous years are tough, since more people are taking the vaccine this year.
Kim Myung-suk, 65, is among a growing number of South Koreans who decided to pay for a vaccine of their choice, despite being eligible for a free dose.
“Though just a few people died so far, the number is growing and that makes me uneasy,” she told Reuters in the capital, Seoul. “So I’m getting a shot somewhere else and will pay for it.”
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