Covid-19: GAA is not to blame for spread of virus, says Nphet

Now is not the time to be socialising with friends, says assistant chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn

Dr Ronan Glynn: ‘Now is not the time to be socialising with friends’. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn: ‘Now is not the time to be socialising with friends’. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins

 

The GAA as an organisation is not responsible for the spread of the virus, assistant chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn has told a briefing.

Dr Glynn also said “now is not the time to be socialising with friends”, warning of “significant issues” if this happens.

“Just because you can do things tomorrow doesn’t mean you should,” he told a National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing yesterday evening.

Families planning to meet older relatives over Christmas should plan ahead by ensuring they stop socialising now, public health officials have advised.

Office parties “shouldn’t be happening,” chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned, adding that people should avoid crowded situations in the run-up to Christmas.

Case numbers will rise again if there is an increase in socialising, and we “don’t do everything we can to drive down our number of contacts”.

Asked about the conclusion by Government-appointed consultants EY that post-match celebrations of some GAA county finals coincided with an increase in infection, Dr Holohan said “lots of things” had contributed to the local spread of the disease.

Increase

Through the summer, there was an increase in socialisation and it was “not right” to pick out any specific sporting or other organisation in relation to this.

Everyone “relaxed” and socialised more during the summer, but some activities were the subject of higher-profile reporting, he said.

Alcohol was a significant common factor in a lot of social experiences in which transmission occurred. The GAA had been identified as an organisation responsible for the spread of infection because of the “high profile nature of some incidents” but “this isn’t the case”.

Everyone has the power to take responsibility for their own lives by adhering to “straightforward” public health advice, he advised.

Ireland would be experiencing an additional 35 deaths a day if the patterns seen in the rest of Europe during the second surge occurred here, Dr Holohan said. This compares to an average of 90-100 deaths a day from all causes.

He said the burden of infection in the Republic is one-third that in Northern Ireland, where 290 new cases of the virus and 10 more deaths from the virus were reported yesterday.

Dr Holohan said significant progress was made during the six weeks of Level 5 restrictions. Daily case numbers fell from 1,200 to an average of 277; the 14-day incidence dropped from a high of 307 cases per 100,000 people to 89.

Outbreaks

However, outbreaks in healthcare settings have persisted, as has a high incidence of the disease among older people, he said. Adherence to strict public health measures have averted 21-54,000 cases, and 100-300 deaths, over the time period, he said.

Asked whether the measures were justified, Dr Holohan said there had been a significant reduction in the burden of infection, while hospital services had been protected “for the most part”.

One further death of a patient with Covid-19 was reported by Nphet. This brings to 2,053 the total number of virus deaths in the pandemic in the State.

Nphet also reported 306 new confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 72,544 the total number of cases in the Republic since February.

Of the new cases, 108 are in Dublin, 30 in Limerick, 22 in Galway, 17 in Donegal, 15 in Wicklow, 14 in Cork, with the remaining 100 cases spread across 18 other counties.

Yesterday, there were 244 Covid-19 patients in hospital, including 31 in ICU. Three further hospitalisations occurred in the previous 24 hours.