More localised Covid information needed for Offaly as cases are consistently high
The HSE and NPHET should increase detailed local communications to areas where Covid-19 cases are high.
The call comes as cases in Offaly spiked again yesterday with the county having the highest rate in the country and the Tullamore Area having the highest rate of any electoral area in the country.
The Offaly Express raised the issue in an opinion piece last week and that call has now been echoed by Deputy Barry Cowen.
Deputy Cowen, who was speaking to the CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid on this issue over the weekend, commented, “there has been consistently high number of cases in Offaly over last number of weeks. Particularly so in the Tullamore electoral area.
“Local councillors are anxious and keen to help and address the increase in whatever way possible. They are contemplating holding a special meeting to appeal to the public.”
He continued: “It is my hope County Councillors and constituency TDs could be furnished with relevant stats and info relating to ongoing high numbers of daily cases in Offaly. It may be helpful to share such information concerning details of clusters and the contributing factors as interpreted by the considered opinions of public health staff for the area.
“It may be then that local representatives can use their influence and seek to exert leadership in efforts to assist authorities and communities in reducing these figures.
Deputy Cowen was informed by Mr Reid that “local communication is key” in these situations and that he had been speaking to the Taoiseach on this in recent days with the hope of obtaining such local data to aid the situation.
The Offaly TD has also requested a regionalised update on the progress of the vaccination rollout.
The Offaly Express has attempted to get an further breakdown of the Local Electoral Area figures to give a better understanding of where the Covid cases were in the community but it was met with this response from the Department of Health.
"There is an increasing desire for COVID-19 incidence rates to be published at a local level (below County level) on a frequent and timely basis. A balance must be struck however between satisfying this desire and the absolute need to minimise the risk to an individual’s privacy and confidentiality. The Department of Health (DoH) chaired a group which also included the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), Health Service Executive (HSE), Health Intelligence Unit (HIU), Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) and Maynooth University (MU) to look at options for geographic dissemination of COVID-19 incidence in Ireland.
"The group reviewed the most appropriate level of geography at which to publish data in order to balance the public interest in regularly updated data for local areas and the requirement to minimise the risk to an individual’s privacy and confidentiality. The Central Statistics Office advised that Local Electoral Area is the most appropriate level to achieve this. There are 166 LEAs in Ireland with an average population of 28,700 (ranging from 9,800 to 63,000). Each county and city is divided into a number of LEAs. The group recognised the need from the public and therefore are now reporting at the larger LEA level, rather than at Electoral Division ED) level which allows data to be reported for the most recent 14-day period, a key indicator of the current status of COVID-19."
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