Decline in Covid-19-associated deaths

Decline in deaths attributed to changing demographic and better management of Covid-19 cases

The decline in Covid-19-associated deaths has been attributed to the remarkable decline in the number of cases, and the changing demographic of the cases, according to the Acting Chief Medical Officer.

Some attribution must also be given to increased knowledge and better management of cases, Dr Ronan Glynn added when queried on the factors attributed to the decline in the number of Covid-19 deaths yesterday (Wednesday, September 30), at a meeting of the Special Covid-19 Response Committee.

However, he made it clear that if a sustained increase in the number of cases were seen, particularly among those who were vulnerable, we would see more deaths in Ireland.

“We have seen growth week-on-week over the past six weeks, but exponential over a shorter period,” he told the Committee.

The Special Committee on Covid-19 Response met yesterday to discuss the “Plan for Living with Covid-19″ with the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Acting CMO, and National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) Expert Advisory Group Chair Dr Cillian de Gascun.

Members heard from Prof Philip Nolan, the Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, that the case fatality rate for those older than 75 years had been 20 per cent back in April and May. It had been “artificially high” because mild or moderate disease was not being detected in those older people at that time.

The mortality rate for those aged over 75 since August was 5 per cent.

The virus was as virulent as it always had been, but the difference now was that more mild and moderate disease was being detected, which we had been missing in April and May. When severe disease occurred, it was as dangerous as it always had been, he added.

Social Democrat Co-Leader Deputy Róisín Shortall queried whether the Health Service Executive (HSE) had looked at the possibility of a telephone triage service to try to get people who were looking for tests directly into test centres, rather than taking up such vast amounts of general practitioners’ (GPs’)  time, when that was required for regular health services.

“We are looking at telephone triage. It is something that the GPs themselves are nervous about. They believe that there is a clinical benefit that should remain for the GPs to do the triage. The HSE is also looking for a clinically-staffed national line as well,” said Minister Donnelly.

At what was to be the final meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Tuesday (September 29), members had voiced concerns that NPHET had not attended, following invitations to two meetings.

The Minister was adamant that at no point had he, or the Department, refused to appear before the Committee.

He outlined the timelines, the notice given, the difficulties with other commitments around the invitations received to appear, and added that the Acting CMO, Department officials and many others had continued to make themselves available.

“I refute in the strongest terms the suggestion, which has been repeatedly aired by members of this Committee today, that anyone is not making themselves available and I would like that noted.

“I, the Department and others have gone out of our way to make ourselves available and will continue to do so,” he added.

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