COVID-19 and Automation and in Ireland.

Most recent news

Vaccination progress in Ireland
The end of April was marked by a flurry of announcements heralding the re-opening of "normality" in Ireland.  In the north, which commenced an innoculation programme in line with the British system in December 2020, meant a marked improvement in things leading to an earlier opening-up then in the rest of the island. This part participates in the European Union's acquisition programme.  There were problems with supply at the start but as vaccines are received they are administered on an age and vulnerability basis and it is reckoned that things will be very much the same by June.
Schools returned after Easter holidays, the construction industry also returned and a schedule of "openings" over the next few weeks including travel throughout the island (for the first time since Christmas Eve!) has been announced by the Government. It is expected that over 80% of the population will have received full innoculation. 
The incidence of the disease is still stable and very slowly decreasing. Nevertheless the programme of innoculation is proceeding well and shows remarkable results especially in the number of cases needing hospitalisations and reducing numbers of deaths.
In automation the number of stories about equipment used both in the production or in treatment is very marked in the past month in particular. This one on vaccine bottles quality arrived this morning for example.
13 Bealtaine 2021


COVID-19 Data hubs - updated daily in each jurisdiction.
National Statistics, Information & Data (Rialtas na hÉireann/Government of Ireland)
COVID-19 Dashboard (Dept of Health/Roinn Sláinte/Männystrie O Poustie)

See previous news below under Recent News

Various statements are being issued by companies and events in the Automation Sector as well as some helpful suggestions. We will list these below as we hear of them. There is some excellent Corona Advice - on coping with this crisis on the Profibus's British website, including warnings about Corona Virus scammers & phishing. 
COFID in Ireland
Blue: Total Confirmed Cases
Red: Day on Day Increase
Green: Total Deaths

The graph on the right shows latest progress of the disease on the Island of Ireland.  The first case on the Island was on 28th February 2020 (in Belfast). The first case in the 26 Counties was announced 1st March 2020. The testing policies in both jurisdictions are different with Northern Ireland though they have tended to be closer to each other as progress in understanding and confronting the virus develops.  There was some distortion in the testing figures due to delays caused by the non availablity of testing materials and facilities especially in the earlier stages of this the progress of this debilitating disease.

There was a significant jump in the number of positive Covid-19 tests in Northern Ireland on Thursday, 25th June, but the increase (over 800 cases) was due to a change in how figures are reported and included local authority cases from April and May. No increase in deaths were reported and there were no deaths reported in the jurisdiction. A jump like this was recorded in the 26 county area too (3190 cases). This was due to delays as some tests were sent to Germany for assessment as the testing regime was being developed in Ireland. This regime was concluded in mid April.

Major outbreaks were identified in clusters especially in residential homes for older people and those with particular underlying conditions and testing concentrated on these starting in mid April leading to an increase of reported cases. During June the figures were sufficiently low to allow a more rapid lifting of the restrictions at the end of that month.

The first day in which no deaths were reported (Since mid March) were 25th May in the 26 counties and the following day in Northern Ireland.  The first day in which no deaths from COVID-19 on the Island - both jurisdictions - was 15th June 2020.

Northern Ireland now has different timelines than those of the UK Government (as do Scotland and Wales). In the 26 counties of the Republic major reviews of the restrictions have resulted in major changes outlined here which take commence on 8th June 2020.  But as the Irish Government announcement statement says, "COVID-19 is still having a major impact on our country. By working together we have made progress – but the virus is still in Ireland."

A perceptible rise in the number of confirmed in both jurisdictions has led the Irish Government to delay the easing of restrictions until 10th August (instead of 20th July). The most recent figures include a very large number of people under 45 years of age. Deaths and admissions to hospitals seems to have remained stable however. The Central Statistics Office of Ireland have confirmed that, though the majority of the fatalities are over 70 year old,  "eight deaths have taken place of people under 65 years of age who have no underlying health conditions," since the begining of the pandemic.  (Irish Independant - 13 Aug 2020).

In the beginning of August a significant rise was noted in meat processing plants and this led to a regional reversal including closure of restaurants and public gatherings and confinement of the public to their local counties in three of the 32 counties of Ireland (Kildare, Offaly & Laois) for a further two weeks to ensure that these cluster outbreaks did not spread into the wider community. Community transmission however has been consistently low throughout the country - north & south.

By mid-August the figures in both were rising steadily and so further restrictions were re-introduced or modified until 13th September. Each person is to reduce their network of people with whom they react or meet. Law enforcement will be strengthened to ensure crowd sizes (16 people) and behaviour are maintained.

A Framework for Restrictive Measures has been developed to help the country to go about daily living as much as possible, while managing the behaviour of the virus. The Framework consists of 5 Levels with the as part of a  "Plan for Living with COVID-19".

Recent news - Progress of the Pandemic.

Here in Ireland though there has been marked improvement since the grim days of early January the number of outbreaks still exceed the levels in the first surge of spring 2020.  The picture shows first of all a swift fall from the heights of over 8000 cases per day down to around 500 per day.  The number of daily deaths also seems to be plateauing at around four or five. 

There are however some good things happening. The first is the level of vaccinations is reving up and today the one millionth jab will have been administered. Because of this there is a marked decrease in the number of people needing admittance to hospital or to ICU as a result of the condition. There has been controversy over the acquisition of sufficient quantities of vaccine particularly the Astra Zenica one which seems to have had great difficult in delivering its promised quantity. Ireland is part of the EU and the negotiations were carried out on behalf of the whole 27 countries. Ireland's share is approx 1% and as soon as they are delivered they are administered within a two or three day period. 

The vaccine is being distributed in various "cohorts". Firstly to healt professionals and the occupants in nursing and care homes. Next those over 85, then over eighty and then over 75 etc. After the over seventies other vulnerable people with a medical condition.  The government had started to talk about dosing by sector then - eg Teachers, Garda (Police) etc but on the advince of the Medical Committee monitoring the situation the system now is based on age alone. The disease seems to target the older people and the reduction in cases requiring medical care in hospital or indeed dying from the condition is market. The higher that age the more likely is death or hospitalisation. 

A very slow relaxation of the draconian measures is starting finally from the 12th April. Schools return and people will be able to travel in their own county or 20Km outside their county. Meeting with others or visiting homes is still strongly discouraged. The vaccination programme is proceeding and by the end of june it is estimated that at over 80% of the population will have received at least one jab and possibly about 40% will be completely vaccinated but there is the caveat - depending on supply of vaccine. 
8/4/2021

Here in Ireland the most severe restrictions have applied since Christmas Eve. Though the figures show a marked improvement since the eyewatering daily tolls in January they still remain higher that those that allowed the brief respite at the end of last November.  The schools have remained closed up to March and are only now beginning to open very slowly. 
The great hope is the arrival of vaccines. At this stage there are three approved - Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Astra Zenica and a forth one from Johnson & Johnson is expected to gain approval shortly (11/3/2021?).  The two juristictions are operating separate policies. Northern Ireland operates using the British system which is one injection and then the second jab is scheduled for twelve weeks later. In addition their approval came through some weeks before the European Union. 
South of the border (right) the supply has been negotiated by the European Commission but the supply has been less than efficient. A percentage of that supply is being allocated to the 27 members states. Ireland gets 1%. Nevertheless progress is proceeding to plan though very much dependent on a sometimes undependable delivery schedule from the suppliers. Health workers and nursing homes have been completed and progressing in "cohorts" over 85s then over 80s, 75s, 70, and 65s. Also those who are considered vulnerable. The second dose is administered four weeks after and this gives full immunity. 
The effects of the vaccine is now measurable and cases among those cohorts that have been vaccinated is appreciably reduced in both areas. (10/3/21)

The situation throughout the month continues to cause concern on both sides of the border. Now both areas have decided to continue the highest level of restrictions through February. Botha areas do show a decrease in the levels of contamination but death rates and admission to hospitals and needing ICU facilities continues to exceed emergency levels. 
Progress of the Virus as of today
The Irish Government aims to reduce case numbers by 5 March and allow hospitals and ICU's and those who work in them time to recover from the current surge. They hope to allow for the phased opening of schools across February and March. Meanwhile it is hoped to get the vaccine out to more people in the first quarter of this year. There have been some delays in delivering the vaccines and possibly this will cause problems in the months ahead. There is also the worry of new variations of the virus. Two thirds of current cases are the so-called "UK virus" which was unknown here in December. 
There are "significant policy changes" to foreign travel so that anyone entering the state from overseas will be required to mandatory quarantine in a hotel or their home. Previously this was "advisory."
More cooperation is anticipated between both sides of the country. The message throughout the island is clear, "Stay at home!"
26/1/2021

Ireland has passed an unenviable record as the country with the highest daily rate of contraction of COVID-19 in the world. This is all the more remarkable as for much of December the country had among the lowest rates in Europe. So what happened? 
Some people have been inclined to attribute this to the new variant first noted in the south east of England but the World Health Organisation says no.  "Not due to the variant," says Dr Micheal Ryan of  WHO,  "but due to increased social mixing and reduction of physical distancing. New variant strains have not been the driver of new transmission.”  From daily rates of 200 to 300 per day they have escalated to an average of 5000 to 7000 per day in two weeks.  Intensive weekly testing of over 170000 per week has been giving readings of up to over 23% positive cases. The exponential growth has been almost vertical.  
This does show signs of decreasing but the strain on the health service is approaching alarming levels and though this is coping at present the next two weeks will create the greatest strain. Meanwhile the programme of vaccination is being rolled out. Figures are being quoted of about 0.8% of the population now covered and expected to be doubled by next week.
(12/1/2021)
As the rate of increase in cases continues the number of people requiring hospital treatment is starting to trail this. There are now more people in hospital than at any time during the pandemic at over 1000 with 88 in ICU.  Doctors are reporting alarming numbers of people contacting them. They advise that we should regard everybody we meet as a carrier. Since there have been zero reports of the normal winter flu anybody who has flulike symptoms has COVID-19.
Confirmed positive cases since start of pandemic!
The government has now introduced even stricter measures including the closure of schools and educational facilities and construction sites until the end of January 2021. They are also introducing stricter test restrictions initially on travelers from the Britain (now outside of the EU) and South Africa. Restrictions from other EU countries will be instituted in consultation with the European Commission.  Testing rates are higher than ever at over 170,000 per seven days and the positive results rate of 21.8% (under 2% just before Christmas). The "R" number is decreasing now from a high of 1.8 to 1.3 this afternoon.  The aim has always to be below 1. 
In the North of Ireland which is in virtual full "lockdown" as well, the state examinations has been cancelled and the advice is basically the same as the rest of the island - "STAY AT HOME IN JANUARY!" 
The one light at the end of the tunnel is the availability of vaccines. Today the European authorisation was made for a second vaccine and hopefully for a third by the end of January. 
(6/1/2021)

Progress of the Pandemic
The Christmas holiday season heralded an unprecedented increase in the number of cases in both jurisdictions. The increase was beyond any of the projected figures and necessitated imposition of further restrictions on St Stephen's Day (26 Dec 2020). These were slightly less that the Level 5 that was experienced up to 1st December however as the week progressed it was evident that the those restrictions were not sufficient with cases increasing to almost 3000 cases reported on the Island on 30th December. The Chief Medical Officer of Ireland, Dr Tony Holohan, said this increase was due increased socialisation over the period. However the most alarming thing was the increase of admissions to hospital with the condition. This had doubled in the past seven days. 
Full 5 Level was introduced again on that evening - no home visits all non-essential activities forbidden and 5km limit on all travel except for essential shopping or medical purposes. The only light at the end of the tunnel was the commencement of the vaccination programme. Northern Ireland is under the British system which is slightly ahead of the EU system in operation south of the border. Nevertheless this will alter the situation substantially but in the meantime the restrictions and practices - physical distancing, washing hands, the wearing of face coverings especially in closed premises and good ventilation. (31/12/2020).

"After a truly horrible year, the arrival of vaccines today represent a bright new dawn of hope. Vaccination is a gateway of opportunity for Irish people to protect themselves against this awful virus.
The initial delivery (equal across all EU 27) is now in place at -71 deg C." (Irish Health Authority)
Today the number of cases advised to the Department of  Health in Ireland is the highest since the pandemic started - 1296. (26/12/2020)

At a press conference in Dublin the Irish CMO announced that we were in the midst of a "third wave" of the disease.  Case numbers seem to be heading for a rate of 10% per day in the last week. The Government have to decide what restrictions to bring in and when.  It is thought that travel outside of county boundries will be reintroduced as early as St Stephen's Day and many commercial establishments are to be closed down again from lunchtime on Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile over 40 countries have halted all but the most urgent flights from Britain and in Ireland the 48 hour ban has been continued until 31st December 2020 "at least." There is some worry that flights from Britain are still flying into Belfast and the Government there seems unable to act decisively on the matter (unlike Scotland).  Figures from Northern Ireland will not be reported until 28th December. (24/12/2020)

Due to a particularly contagious strain of the virus, which according to the English Health Secretary is "out of control," a severe restriction has been placed of much of the south east of England including London. Wales & Scotland have also introduced tough restrictions. Countries like Belgium & the Netherlands, Germany Italy and Ireland have introduced a ban on flights from Britain for the next 48 hours "at least".  Though the number of cases in Ireland is low by European standards the Chief Medical Officer has said,  "Every indicator of disease severity is moving in the wrong direction, more rapidly than we had anticipated." The cases in Ireland show 67% are under 45 years of age and the median age is 34 years old.  However the great danger is spreading it to older and other vulnerable people. (20/12/2020)

The level five restrictions were lifted and a limited level three was introduced with most retail and eating establishments open but travel restricted to within county boundries. While this was the situation in the south a new short sharp system was adopted norh of the border. On 18th all travel restrictions were lifted though limited capacity was permitted on public transport. In both areas figures of both positive cases and deaths continue to rise. In the North particularly the hospitals were finding it difficult to cope and help was asked of the South in strengthening the ambulance service. The north are to introduce very strict restrictions on St Stephen's Day an almost complete lockdown until February. The South too is considering strengthening restrictions from late December.  There is however hope in that it is believed that vaccinations can start in late December after the EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) approval hopefully on 21st December but not later than 29th December. (19/12/2020)

The British government have announced the approval of one of the vaccination and hope to start a programme of vaccination as early as next week. A quantity of these will be allocated to Northern Ireland.  Vaccinations in the rest of the island wait for approval from the European authorities in Amsterdam. Applications for approval for two were submitted to the European standards authority on Tuesday.  (2/12/2020)

The six week under Level 5 is sceduled to en on 1st December. All retail outlet will open and from the 4th December restaurants will also be opened. Movements will be restricted to within each county until 18th December when movement throughout Ireland will be permitted until early January. The wearing of face coverings is been increased from indoors in shops etc to wearing outside on the streets. The restrictions did facilitated a marked improvement in the propagation of the disease though not to the degree hoped nevertheless it is remarkable that schools have remained open throughout the period and the "R" number was brought to under 1.  The positivity rate was also reduced to around 2.6 and numbers in hospital have remained stable rather than reducing though nowhere near the figures in the first wave. 
In the North however the incidence continues to be very high in comparison. At some periods the rate was three times that in the Republic. The authorities there have now introduced a very strict two week close down of all retail establishments from Thursday (26 Nov). In both jurisdictions strong controls are to be maintained on family visits. Strong emphasis is being mado on personnal responsibility. (28/11/2020)

Cases in both  jurisdictions continue to increase exponentially and so both Governments have introduced extremely tough regulations. In the Republic the entire country has been placed under Level 5 which is similar to the regulations as those introduced last March though slightly more nuanced - manufacturing is permitted as an "essential service" for example and schools remain open. These are scheduled to be in force until the end of November. In the North the regulations are also very difficult. Here the outbreaks are about half of those in the other part of the island though the population is less than one third however in both the daily increase in cases is greater than at the height of the initial phase. However because of the age of the majority of those catching the disease is under 60 the death rate and the number admitted to hospital is much lower.  The attached (right) shows a comparison showing growing total in each area. (20/10/2020)

Due to a significent increase in cases over the weekend (Average daily number over 14 days is 430:Population near 5 million) the Government placed the entire 26 counties under Level 3 restrictions at midnight on Tuesday (6th). The situation in the North is much worse (average 569 over 14 days: Population ca 1.5 million) and is the hardest hit on the island but because the regional government there is dependent on finances from Westminster they are unable sufficiently to back up restrictions financially.  Today (Friday 9th) the number of confirmed 1080 in Northern Ireland - the highest since the pandemic started in the area. (9/10/2020)

Top: Republic; Below N.Ireland
Red:Total Cases
Green: Total Deaths
Blue: Daily Report of cases 

The situation on the island is causing concern as numbers of cases continue to rise albeit at a slower rate than in March/April. Restrictions have been increased in both jurisdictions though the rate of increase in the North (Pop ca 1.5m)  seems to be more severe - there were in excess of 2500 cases in the seven days to 2nd October. There is a warning of another complete lockdown. The increase in the Republic (Pop Approx 4.9m) over the same period is over 2700. (2/10/2020)

All six counties of Northern Ireland are placed under further restrictions from 21st September. There will be no mixing of two households indoors except for single-person household bubbles and certain other exemptions. No more than six people from two households can meet in private gardens.

The north western county of Donegal has been moved to Level 3 due to a surge of outbreaks there. It is bordered by the area of Derry/Tyrone in Norther Ireland which is the area of highest outbreak in Northern Ireland - the area of highest outbreak on these islands. (26/9/2020)

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced that Dublin is moving to Level 3 of the Living with Covid plan from midnight tonight. He said that all across Europe the coronavirus is gaining a foothold and spreading at a rate not seen since March and April. In the past two weeks many countries have seen a ''doubling of new cases''. He said the threat of Covid-19 is growing throughout Ireland.  "Here in our capital, despite people's best efforts over recent weeks, we are in a very dangerous place. Without further urgent and decisive action, there is a very real threat that Dublin could return to the worst stages of this crisis." From midnight tonight, Dublin city and county will move to Level 3 for three weeks. This includes: Visitors to private homes including gardens from one household only, up to a maximum of six people; No indoor gatherings and outdoor gatherings up to a maximum of 15. Restaurants and pubs serving food must close for indoor dining but can stay open for takeaway and delivery or a maximum of 14 customers outdoors. (18/9/2020)

A steady though slow increase in cases in Ireland has been occuring in both areas from the end of August continuing through September. There is a large number in "clusters" which are mostly family units. The other notable is that the majority of cases are aged under 45 years of age. There is a worrying number of "community transfer" cases as well. Schools returned however during this period and seems to have gone reasonably well. People are encouraged to restrict their one-on-one meetings and to avoid congregating in groups exceeding 6, maintain a two metre physical distance, washing hands frequently, wearing face coverings in confined spaces and download the Covid Tracker.

Many of us are involved (perhaps for the first time) in  video meetings. This article Mastering the role of the virtual meeting host (Elizabeth Scarce, Control Engineering 8/5/2020). BMON which always gives good advice on on-line procedures & marketing has recently written How to look more professional on a Zoom or Teams call. (24/1/2020)

How robotics engineers are taking on COVID-19. (Control Engineering Dec 2020)


What have we learned about the virus, so far? (Sterling Presentation Health 21/10/2020)


Support safe opening (Omron 22/9/2020)

Plans for AGM ( ISA Ireland 14/9/2020)


Webinars for industrial communications (CANinAutomation 25/8/2020)

People, Processes & Pandemics (Interactive White Paper, Paul Galeski/Maverick 24/8/2020)

Using automation to keep workers at food manufacturing plants safe during the pandemic. (Automation Insights 19/8/2020)



How many were there? (CrowdScan 14/7/2020)

Helping organisations make their own face coverings. (Festo 17/6/2020)

There is no dip! (ARC Advisory 12/6/2020)


Innovative Engineering Solutions Contribute to COVID-19 Medical Protection (Automation.com 29/5/2020)


Will COVID-19 change the future of the electric grid? (ARC Advisory 27/5/2020)


Top products since COVID-19 pandemic relate to air control and/or cleaning (Control Engineering 21/5/2020)


Coronavirus phishing attacks rising (Control Eng 14/5/2020)


AQE & WWEM postponed until May 2021 (4/5/2020)


The Future of Business in a World with Coronavirus (Corsini Group 28/4/2020)


All automation face-to-face events cancelled for 2020 (ISA 24/4/2020)


My thoughts on COVID-19 (Real Time Automation 15/4/2020)


Analog Devices Contributes to Global Fight Against COVID-19 (ADI 8/4/2020)


How Emerson is responding to the Covid-19 outbreak (MPN 6/4/2020)


We need some constants in our lives. (BMON 2/4/2020)


Our commitment during the COVID 19 outbreak. (Maverick 1/4/2020)


Harting cable assemblies for medical devices (1/4/2020)


Corona pandemic and CAN. (CiA 1/4/2020)


Support for ventilators (Anglia GB 30/3/2020)


An exhibition hall as a temporary hospital? (Bmon 29/3/2020)


Survey on impact of COVID-19 on electronics industry released (Control Engineering 28/3/2020)


ACHEMA preparations and the impact of SARS-CoV-2. (ACHEMA 26/3/2020)

Hannover Fair 2020 - (Cancelled next fair in 2021; 26/3/2020)


Covid-19 Related Event and Training Status Update Hub (ISA 26/3/2020)


Business Supports Udarás na Gaeltachta (25/3/2020)



Coronavirus (WHO)

Coronavirus (EU)


COVID-19 Updates (Ireland)

Public Health NI (Northern Ireland)

Coronavirus (UK)
Coronavirus (USA)


The Tripadvisor Organisation has a useful map which shows the state of each country.
Impact of COVID-19 on Industrial Markets (Collection of studies from ARC Advisory 25/3/2020)

ARC Industry Forum Europe Goes Virtual (25/3/2020)


Belfast Seminar deferred to October 2020 (Profibus 24/3/2020)


Making remote working work! (GC Forge 24/3/20200


Helping fight COVID-19 through better comms (BMON 23/3/2020)


Gas analyser manufacturer offers help! (Signal Group 23/3/2020)


Coronavirus will force manufacturers to enhance automation, digitalization (Control 18/3/2020)


Business Update For Fiscal Second Quarter (Keysight 18/3/2020)


COVID-19 UpDate (Headwell Photonics:17/3/2020)


Industry 4.0 Summit (Cancellation GB Media & Events Ltd 16/3/2020)


Working from home productively (BeMon 16/3/2020)


Enterprise Ireland Business Response – COVID-19 (13/3/2020)


Apple Worldwide (13th March 2020)


Statement from ISA Europe (13 March 2020)


Measures from Anglia Components. (11th March 2020)


COVID-19 Webpage  (IDA 10/3/2020)


productronica China: New date in July 2020 has been set (10th March 2020)


What’s going to happen about PI UK’s events? (Profibus/Profinet UK 9th March 2020)


Analytica 2020 - Munich  (6th March 2020)

New date October 2020

Coronavirus and the ARC Automation Index. (ARC Advisory Group 6th March 2020)


Emerson User Group Event - Milan! (Postponed 27th February 2020)

Rescheduled for March 2021 same venue!

New Dates for Control World Expo 2020 (Kuala Lumpur 7th February 2020)


#PAuto #TandM #Automation



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