Covid cases soar as Iveragh bears brunt of surge

The last fortnight has seen a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Kerry, with the Iveragh peninsula and Tralee the worst-affected areas of the county.

he most up-to-date figures from the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre show that, from December 14 to 27, there were 372 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in the county.

Of those, 119 have been diagnosed since Christmas Eve. Since December 16, there has been an average of 27 new cases a day diagnosed in Kerry.

While the most up-to-date figures do not show where outbreaks have occurred in Kerry, the latest breakdown of cases by Local Electoral Area (LEA) indicate that the Iveragh Peninsula, and specifically the greater Killorglin area, is the worst-affected area.

The LEA figures were not updated last Thursday – as is usually the case – and the most recent figures cover the period from December 8 to 21. In that two-week period, there were 205 cases diagnosed in Kerry, with more than half of these occurring in the Kenmare Electoral Area, of which the Iveragh Peninsula comprises the vast majority.

According to the LEA figures, there were 110 cases in the Kenmare area in the two-week period giving the region – which has a population of 25,062 – a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of 438.2. That was the highest incidence rate of any LEA in Munster on December 21.

Though exact figures are not available, a large proportion of the cases recorded in the Kenmare LEA are understood to be linked to the recent significant outbreak in the greater Killorglin area. That outbreak was centred on a local school, where at least 17 cases were diagnosed, though the number of directly linked and more generally associated cases in the area, while officially unconfirmed, is known to be considerably higher. In more recent days, positive cases have emerged in Sneem, Cahersiveen and Waterville.

The increase in cases in the Iveragh peninsula has led to calls for a testing centre in the region. Cllr Norma Moriarty, who is a member of the HSE Regional Forum, made representations to the HSE for a testing centre. In a response the HSE said they were “monitoring activity on an hourly basis” but currently did not see the need for another centre.

“The test centres have got much busier but are coping with demand,” the response outlined.

The Tralee LEA also saw a high number of cases, though the number and incidence rate in and around the county capital was far lower than in the Kenmare LEA. There were 55 cases in the LEA which gave the area, with a population of 33,038, a 14-day incidence rate of 166.5. Case numbers and incidence rates across the rest of the county were much lower.

In the Listowel LEA, six cases saw the 14-day rate at 20.9; in Corca Dhuibhne, the rate was 63.5 after nine cases; and in Killarney, 14 cases brought the rate to 47.3. – News