Coronavirus: 2,148 more cases reported as Nphet gives first briefing since August

Public health measures to be retained until at least February 2022 as virus spreads

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

 

The Department of Health has confirmed a further 2,148 cases of Covid-19, while 464 people remain in hospital and 86 of those in intensive care.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is this evening giving a press briefing on the current status of the virus in the country. It is the first such briefing since August.

As it started, a press release was issued in which Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “Disease incidence is high and increasing across the country and across all age groups. However, vaccination has helped us prevent many serious illnesses and deaths.

“Covid-19 is one of the most contagious viruses we have ever experienced. We have achieved extensive suppression of this disease in the past (but) our collective commitment to the basic measures now needs to be reviewed and enhanced.

“While vaccination rates are extremely high, they are only one tool we need to use in protecting ourselves against Covid-19. The other is compliance with basic public health measures by the general public and across sectors. This will be critical in the weeks ahead and while infection rates remain high.

“The appropriate use of masks, physical distancing, well ventilated rooms, hand and respiratory hygiene, and the act of self-isolation with the onset of symptoms is vital if we are to mitigate the further spread of Covid-19 over the winter months. A continued public and sectoral awareness on behaviours and habits is required,” he said.

Dr Ronan Glynn, meanwhile, said: “Booster vaccinations are under way for those 80 years or older, 65 or older and living in a nursing home or long-term care facility and, following a review by the national Immunisation Advisory commit (Niac), will also now be administered to those aged over 60.

The situation has deteriorated in recent weeks, with a significant rise in case numbers, hospitalisations and ICU admissions.

This led to the Government revising its reopening plan, due to come into effect on Friday.

There will be a further easing of restrictions on the night-time economy, but not to the same extent as previously envisioned, while public health measures will be retained until at least February 2022.

In his letter to Government on Monday, Dr Holohan said Nphet could not fully rule out the reintroduction of restrictions in the future. He pointed out that based on past experiences, Nphet cannot predict with certainty the future trajectory of the disease.

“We must continue to ensure our response is agile and flexible, with an ability to pivot rapidly and respond to any emerging threat.”

He said the “Nphet cautions that the re-imposition of public health restrictive measures may be warranted” if the existing measures around masks, social distancing and Covid passes do not prove effective.