Ireland not back to square one with rising Covid cases – Nphet member

ireland
Ireland Not Back To Square One With Rising Covid Cases – Nphet Member
The HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said there was a need to focus on the positive. Photo: Getty Images.
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Vivienne Clarke

Higher case numbers do not mean that Ireland is back to square one in its fight against Covid-19, according to a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

The HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry described the current level of Covid-19 cases as “disheartening” but added that there was a need to focus on the positive.

“We’re not seeing the dip we’d hoped for, but we’re not back to square one,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Dr Henry said that nursing home residents and staff were almost completely vaccinated, as were acute frontline workers, where case numbers had decreased from 1,000 in one week in February to 14 in one week recently.

The vaccination programme will reduce illness, hospitalisations and deaths in vulnerable groups which was a cause for considerable hope, he said.

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However, Dr Henry cautioned that while vaccination enhances public health measures, “we cannot rely purely on vaccination alone.”

Fourth surge

Separately, the HSE’s clinical lead on infection control Professor Martin Cormican warned that the country could be looking at a fourth surge of the disease.

“We need to be very careful. We are pretty much stuck and we could be looking at another surge,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“The more we come together the more the virus spreads. The new strain spreads faster,” he added.

Dr Henry said current case numbers narrow the options for easing restrictions next month.

It considerably narrows our choices

“We’ve always known that the lower we get the figures down the more choices we have, and at five or six hundred cases a day, it considerably narrows our choices because we know that there’s lots of disease out there,” he said.

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“[Of] those five or six hundred cases... 50 or 60 will translate in hospital admissions and five or six of those will end up entering intensive care.”

It comes after Government sources said officials are expecting a further rise in Covid-19 case numbers following St Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day and the recent good weather.

On Sunday, the State reported its highest number of new Covid-19 cases in three weeks as 769 cases were confirmed.

The possible surge in Covid-19 infections comes just a week before the Cabinet is due to review which Level 5 restrictions may be lifted in early April.

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