A member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is urging people to cut their social contacts by 30 per cent to stop the spread of Covid-19.
As the Irish Examiner reports, professor Philip Nolan, chair of Nphet's epidemiological modelling group, said Ireland's r-number is now "around 1.2" but could grow sharply.
His warning follows the unusual step taken by chief medical officer Tony Holohan who issued a statement overnight on Saturday night, warning people to use PCR tests over antigen tests, and reiterated the importance of mask-wearing, ventilation and social distancing in reducing the spread of the virus.
Health officials on Sunday confirmed 4,181 new cases of the virus.
That followed 5,959 cases, which were announced on Saturday. There were 669 people in hospital with Covid-19 this morning, including 125 in ICUs.
This comes as the number of Covid patients in University Hospital Limerick has reached 50. It is 37 in Cork University Hospital (CUH) and 26 in University Hospital Kerry (UHK) according to the HSE.
The situation in all ICUs remains serious, with the HSE having just 17 adult beds available, with none in CUH or UHK on Saturday evening.
Professor Nolan called on the public to “think and act positively.”
We can do this: Stay home if symptomatic and seek a PCR test. Restrict movements and do your antigen tests if a close contact. Work from home if possible. Prioritize and limit your contacts. Wash hands. Wear masks. Avoid crowds. Ventilate spaces. 12/12 pic.twitter.com/mrediZ0HQ3
— Professor Philip Nolan (@PhilipNolan_MU) November 21, 2021
Vaccination and public health measures have reduced the reproduction rate of the virus to “around 1.2” he said, and without mitigation, this could be between 6 and 8.
“This is a huge, sustained and very successful collective effort, preventing a lot of transmissions, but an R of 1.2 is a growth rate of around 4 per cent per day, enough to get us from 2000 cases per day to 4400 cases per day in 3 weeks,” he posted on social media on Sunday.
Prof Nolan called on the public to make changes immediately.
“If we can reduce our close social contacts by 30 per cent, and/or mitigate the risks of those social contacts by 30 per cent,” he said.
“We will have done enough to see the level of infection, case numbers and ultimately hospitalisations decline.”
He also urged people to stay home if they are symptomatic and seek a PCR test.
Dr Nolan added "Restrict movements and do your antigen tests if a close contact. Work from home if possible. Prioritize and limit your contacts. Wash hands. Wear masks. Avoid crowds. Ventilate spaces."