The HSE, The Donegal Garda Division and Donegal County Council have issued an urgent joint appeal, pleading with people in the county to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The North West Major Emergency Management Interagency Group says in order for restrictions to be eased in Donegal, action must be taken now.
The HSE’s hospital and community services Donegal County Council and an Garda Síochána are working together through emergency management structures to co-ordinate the community response to the ongoing crisis.
In a statement the group says that the incidence rate of the virus in Donegal is too high and needs to come down.
"It is difficult but we need to keep up our guard, play our part and work with our families and communities to stop the spread of Covid-19.
In the last 14 days to Monday there were 428 new confirmed cases in the county while the incidence rate is more than double the national average".
Dr Aidan Ryan, Public Health Specialist in the North West explained why the numbers are high "Community transmission in Donegal appears to be higher than many other counties. This is due to a number of factors including, cross border travel and people are still congregating for social purposes including events such as wakes and funerals or gatherings extending beyond the family or bubble. If people are undertaking essential travel (work or education) to the North, do the basics, make sure you social distance, wear a face covering, wash your hands and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. We know these measures work”.
Sean Murphy, Hospital Manager at LUH commenting on the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak at the hospital said "As numbers increase in the community, the pressure on healthcare workers and frontline services intensifies. Over the last number of weeks, we have seen increasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 patients in LUH. We need everyone to follow the HSE’s public health advice and help us maintain essential health services for the people of county Donegal”.
Chief Superintendent for the Donegal Garda Division, and Chair of the North West Major Emergency Management Interagency Group Terry McGinn said "An Garda Síochána in Donegal are appealing to the public over the next number of weeks to stay at home unless their journey is absolutely essential. Traffic across the county remains high and gatherings are contributing to the increase in cases. We are asking the public to drive down the virus by thinking twice before driving for non-essential purposes.
"To that end An Garda Síochána have increased the number of Operation Fanacht checkpoints across County Donegal’s vast road network. We are doing this in support of the public health measures to protect lives and to protect our communities. High visibility community engagement patrols continue and Gardaí will continue to engage with the most vulnerable in society to provide them with the necessary supports”.
The Chief Executive of Donegal County Council Mr John McLaughlin said "This is a very difficult time for everyone, we need to get the virus under control. If anyone needs assistance, I would ask them to call the Covid 19 Community Helpline. We can get through this together, if we all do our part and adhere to the guidelines.”