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World News

Ireland on track to get COVID-19 surge under control, official says

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a closed pub amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Dublin, Ireland October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland is on track to get its second wave of COVID-19 infections under control by the end of November when the government hopes to ease some of the strictest restrictions in Europe, a senior public health official said on Thursday.

Ireland moved to the highest level of restrictions to fight the virus two weeks ago, when the government banned visiting other households and travel of over 5 kilometres and closed restaurants and non-essential retail for six weeks, until Dec. 1.

Over the past two weeks the daily average of cases reported has fallen by more than half to 552, data from the Health Ministry showed on Thursday.

“The way case numbers are behaving would suggest that case numbers are declining rapidly and that we are on target for the sort of end position we want to be in at the end of the six weeks,” on Dec. 1, Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, told a press briefing.

Ireland is one the few countries in Europe bucking a trend of rapidly rising infection rates. The 14-day infection rate in Ireland fell to 202 cases per 100,000 on Thursday from 292 a week ago, data showed.

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan told the briefing that Ireland would need to maintain the current level of decline for another four weeks, at which point it would be up to the government to decide whether to ease restrictions.

“We’ve made great progress so far, but we are only halfway there,” Holohan said.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Leslie Adler

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