Covid-19 growth 'misrepresented' as Ireland enters third surge, prof says

ireland
Covid-19 Growth 'Misrepresented' As Ireland Enters Third Surge, Prof Says Covid-19 Growth 'Misrepresented' As Ireland Enters Third Surge, Prof Says
Professor Gerry Killeen said it is now too late to avoid a third lockdown. Photo: Getty Images.
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By Digital Desk Staff

Ireland is entering its third surge of Covid-19 and faces 1,000 new cases each day in the weeks ahead, an infectious diseases specialist has warned.

Professor Gerry Killeen, head of advanced pathogen ecology at UCC, said it is now too late to avoid a third lockdown and there is no reason for the Government to delay a decision.

It comes as infection rates have continued to climb, as 527 new cases were confirmed yesterday and the country's 14-day incidence rate of the virus has risen to 102.4 cases per 100,000 population.

“I still hear our authorities you know, misrepresenting exponential growth,” Prof Killeen said.

“We’re been in exponential growth for at least ten days now, it’s just with exponential growth it gets bigger every day, so it gets more obvious every day.

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“My advice to anybody who might listen would simply be, don’t wait another day. This is the third time we’re tried this and it hasn’t worked.

“We’re on our way into our third surge and our third lockdown. Let’s move fast and let’s make our third lockdown our last one.”

Professor Philip Nolan, a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and chair of its epidemiological modelling advisory group, separately said that case numbers had only been seen rising at their current levels twice before — in March and October.

“We have gone from a (5-day) average of 260 cases per day to 469 cases per day in one week. It's a cause for grave concern. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay home,” he said in a tweet.

It comes as the country’s chief medical officer has urged the public to avoid restaurants and crowds and said there is strong reason for “persistent, ongoing concern”.

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Prof Killeen said 1,000 daily cases by January is a conservative estimate.

“Even if we lean on the conservative side, you know, rather than exaggerate or risk exaggerating, I think it’s quite likely that we’re going to find ourselves right back where we started before we went through the last lockdown,” he said.

“So very easy for us to get over 1,000 cases a day and then we’re back to square one. That’s a worrying enough scenario, without even considering the worse ones which are also possible.”

Amid fears over a new mutant strain of the virus spreading rapidly in the UK, Prof Killeen said the strain already present in Ireland is causing enough trouble.

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“I don’t think there’s anything I can say to anybody that would communicate the realities,” he said.

“We’re dealing better with [it] than what’s happening at hospitals in the North of Ireland, and all around Europe. I have friends in Switzerland who are making decisions about who gets a bed and who gets care and who doesn’t.

“Let’s not go there and let’s make the decision to go in the other direction down to manageable, very low levels [of cases] and ideally snuff this one out.”

The Government is expected to confirm on Tuesday if new restrictions will be brought in to curb the recent rise in cases.

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