People in Donegal urged to continue to stick to health guidelines

An Garda Síochána, the HSE and Donegal County Council are appealing to people in the county to stay home and stay safe as we continue to drive Covid-19 down.

The three agencies, as part of the North Western Major Emergency Management Group, are reminding the public to do what you can to help save lives.

In the last 14 days up to January 19th, 1,894 new cases have been confirmed in Donegal and with the 14 day incidence rate standing at 1,189.8 per 100,0000 of the population.

Dr Anthony Breslin, Director of Public Health North West says while cases are beginning to decrease, they are doing so more slowly than they would like. He's warning the disease can be serious to all ages.

Meanwhile, Seán Murphy, General Manager Letterkenny University Hospital says COVID-19 ICU and hospitalisation numbers are of critical concern in light of the ongoing number of cases being diagnosed in the community.

An Garda Síochána is reminding the public that it continues to conduct static and mobile checkpoints, as well as high visibility patrolling focused on non-essential travel.

The Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, John McLaughlin is urging everyone to stick with the well-known public health measures that have proven to work before.

Statement in full:

An Garda Síochána, the HSE and Donegal County Council are appealing to the public to stay home and stay safe as we continue to drive this virus down in our community.

The three agencies, as part of the North Western Major Emergency Management Group, are reminding the public to please do what you can to help save lives. Each and every person’s effort in this regard counts.

In the last 14 days to the 19th of January there were:
· 1,894 new positive cases in Donegal
· 1,189.8 cases of Covid-19 per 100,0000 of the population is the 14-Day incidence rate in Donegal.

While this is a decrease, the reduction is happening slowly.
An Garda Síochána is reminding the public that it continues to conduct static and mobile checkpoints, as well as high visibility patrolling focused on non-essential travel in support of this Stay Home/Stay Safe message.

An Garda Síochána has been consistent in its graduated policing response to supporting Public Health Regulations, which has seen Gardaí engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.

Where a person is found to have breached the travel restrictions and that person does not comply with a direction, An Garda Síochána can issue a €100 fine.

According to Dr Anthony Breslin, Director of Public Health North West, "Cases are beginning to decrease in Donegal but slowly and more slowly than we would like. People need to recognise that because there is increased infection in the community their risk of getting the virus is higher than it was last autumn.

Therefore we cannot get away with a casual approach to the virus. Also more people have ended up in hospital and more in ICU so the disease can be serious to all ages".

Seán Murphy, General Manager Letterkenny University Hospital stated, "COVID-19 ICU and hospitalisation numbers are of critical concern to us in light of the ongoing number of cases being diagnosed in the community. I would urge everyone to follow public health advice to stay at home, other than for essential reasons, the more we can drive down the spread of COVID-19 and minimise the impact on vital healthcare services, patients and frontline workers.”

Chairperson of the Major Emergency Management Group, Chief Supt Terry McGinn of the Donegal Garda Division said, "An Garda Síochána has seen overwhelming public support for Public Health Guidelines and Regulations. The vast majority of people continue to comply with public health guidance at great sacrifice and we thank them for that. We must continue to stay the course.

"Before getting in the car consider whether your journey is essential? Reduce the amount of people you meet. When taking exercise do so within 5km of home. This 5km zone includes the distance travelled to a location to exercise”.

Chief Supt McGinn said, "We know it is particularly difficult for those who feel vulnerable or isolated. An Garda Síochána are here to help, whether that involves collecting prescriptions or doing shopping. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact your local Garda station”.

The Chief Executive of Donegal County Council Mr John McLaughlin said "Donegal County Council are very concerned about the surge in cases over the past month and the impact this is having on people and their families and the consequences for our hospitals and healthcare system. The slight flattening of the daily figures in Donegal in recent days is encouraging but the Council asks everyone to stick with the well-known public health measures that have proven to work before. This is especially important in the coming two weeks – stay at home where possible, wash hands regularly and adhere to the public health guidelines.

The most important action we can take to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19 is to follow the public health advice:
- Stay at home, other than for essential reasons.
- ensure regular hand washing
- practice good respiratory hygiene
- keep 2m between yourself and other people
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- wear a mask where indicated

More information and advice on COVID-19 is available at www.hse.ie/coronavirusor visit https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/surveillance/covid-19outbreaksclustersinireland/