Ireland’s rate of Covid-19 is the highest in the European Union, while deaths related to the disease have hit a five-month high.
Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show the Republic has a 14-day incidence rate of just over 500 cases per 100,000 people — just ahead of Cyprus, with a rate of 496.
Covid-19 was linked to 52 deaths in August, the highest monthly total since April. Ten deaths were recorded last week, with an average age of 77 years, according to the HSE.
On Thursday, the Department of Health confirmed a further 1,751 new cases.
The five-day moving average of Covid-19 cases has dropped by 10 per cent over the past week to now stand at 1,584 — almost 200 less than a week ago.
Dr Martin Daly, a former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, said the pandemic is far from over.
“The prediction is that the wave will diminish in October, just in time for the Government’s proposed opening up of our society,” he told Newstalk radio.
“However, I think that people need to also behave in a responsible manner, and I know that the Government are relying on people’s personal behaviour to try and continue to combat this virus because it will not have gone away.”
Tomas Ryan, Associate Professor at Trinity College Dublin and a member of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG), said health authorities need to examine why Ireland’s rate of the disease remains so high.
“Our test, trace and isolation system was never fast enough to contain Covid-19 in Ireland on its own, we learnt that as early as July/August 2020,” he told Newstalk radio.
“We have amongst the most crowded schools in Europe, and that is going to be a problem this winter.”
Prof Ryan expressed concern that the Government's reopening plan could see a repeat of a surge in disease seen at Christmastime.
“Remember that we had to have a five-month lockdown because we went 'gung ho' into the Christmas season last year for three weeks, so I’m concerned that we may be making some similar mistakes now,” he said.
“Hopefully the consequences won’t be quite as bad, so I think that people are better served with a more cautious, more stable reopening that doesn’t involve us going backwards.”