Big rise in Covid cases poses significant risks to health service, Nphet warns

Holohan calls for changes in public behaviour as hospitality sector set to reopen

Prof Philip Nolan, speaking at Nphet's first media briefing since August, has said that the changing of population behaviours in late September "triggered this latest wave" of Covid-19 cases, with 2,148 new cases confirmed on October 20th. Video: RTÉ

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Covid-19 is growing again at a rate of 2-3 per cent a day but there is no “single silver bullet” to drive down case numbers, public health officials have warned.

The future trajectory of the disease remains very uncertain and involves “significant risk” to the operation of the health service, according to the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Disease incidence is high and increasing across all age groups and counties, with significant outbreaks in some areas, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said.

Speaking at Nphet’s first briefing in almost two months, Dr Holohan described the current rise in cases, hospitalisations and ICU admissions as “worrying and concerning” and predicted a rise in the number of virus deaths.

Fourteen people with Covid-19 were admitted to intensive care on Wednesday, the biggest daily jump since January; 52 ICU patients are on mechanical ventilation.

Dr Holohan attributed the rise in cases to changes in public behaviour and called on people to enhance their protections against the virus. He also highlighted unvaccinated groups in the population, including 300,000 adults, one in five 18-30-year-olds and two in five 12-15-year-olds.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
545 117

He criticised businesses that failed to check Covid certs and expressed concern about a lack of checks at Dublin Airport, through which he transited recently.

Deteriorating situation

The deteriorating situation was underscored last night by new figures showing 34 outbreaks occurred in workplaces in the past week, up from 18 the previous week. School outbreaks rose to 15, from two, while nursing home outbreaks fell by two, to 11.

A further 63 Covid-19 deaths occurred last week, officials said, and with more older people getting infected. More than half those in ICU are aged over 65.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party last night that notwithstanding the deteriorating situation “we are continuing to reopen with caution with digital Covid certs being used and the Government is following public health advice”.

Guidelines to be published by Fáilte Ireland on Thursday will allow almost the full unrestricted reopening of the entire hospitality sector. The guidelines will restore most of the pre-pandemic operations for nightclubs and live music venues, and will also lift the majority of remaining restrictions in pubs, restaurants and bars.

“Discussions are ongoing with sectoral guidance being worked out. Guidance will be practical and common sense will apply,” the Taoiseach said.

Booster programme

Mr Martin said the strategy for Covid in the medium term would involve a significant booster programme. He said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has written to the National Immunisation Advice Committee (NIAC) regarding healthcare workers.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told members of his party last night the rapidly rising Covid case numbers are more “worrying by the day”. He also referred to the letter sent to the Government by Nphet this week and said it was clearly stated the restrictions could be reintroduced if numbers continued to deteriorate.

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said she was confident the anomalies in the Government’s plan for the next phase of reopening from Friday would be resolved within 24 hours.

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