Coronavirus: 1,173 new cases reported as Holohan warns of ‘high risk’ posed to unvaccinated people

‘We don’t know how bad it’s going to get’, says Minister for Health as infections rise

All young people can continue to seek to get vaccinated at pharmacies. File photograph: Getty

All young people can continue to seek to get vaccinated at pharmacies. File photograph: Getty

 

A further 1,173 cases of Covid-19 were reported in the State on Friday evening as the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned of the high risk of the virus to people who were not yet vaccinated.

As of 8am on Friday, 79 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 23 are in intensive care.

In a statement, Dr Holohan said: “We continue to experience rapid increases in the incidence of the disease in the community, with cases increasing in 22 out of 26 counties and with the greatest majority of cases occurring in people who have not yet been fully vaccinated.

“The current trajectory of the highly transmissible Delta variant across the country means that unvaccinated people are at high risk of contracting Covid-19, with just over 50 per cent of today’s cases aged between 19-34 years old.”

Dr Holohan asked that those awaiting full vaccination take every precaution this weekend and adhere strongly to public health advice, including limiting social contacts, meeting outdoors, staying 2m apart, wearing face masks and avoiding international travel.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said people who were not vaccinated must continue to exercise extra caution.

“We still have 2.5million people in this country who have not been fully vaccinated. That is a really big reservoir of people that this virus can seek out and infect. And some will get sick. If enough people get sick some will end up in hospital and some will end up in critical care and unfortunately we will see a level of mortality over the coming weeks.”

Dr Glynn said there was a “very significant difference between Christmas and today” when it came to the Covid-19 situation, as 60 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

“For those who have yet to be vaccinated, I know it’s frustrating I know you have a number of weeks to go but please try and be really, really careful,” he told RTÉ Six One News.

“The message now is that you can still socialise, you can meet your friends but do it outdoors. Don’t meet up indoors unless you absolutely have to. This virus transmits much more easily in indoor environments so stay from them, go for a drink outside.”

The latest numbers follow a warning from Health Service Executive chief executive Paul Reid that the “new vulnerable” group are those who are not yet vaccinated, primarily younger people.

Surge

The Department of Health is making preparations to build up surge ICU capacity in the hospital system because of the “roaring” growth in cases of the virus, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, who compared the possible fatality rates to those in the War of Independence.

Possible death rates for just three months range between 335 and 1,760 people, he said: “In the War of Independence about 2,300 people died . . . to put it in context.”

Mr Donnelly on Friday told the Seanad “we don’t know how bad it’s going to get” and they did not know how Irish society would respond to the measures.

But he said more than 200 people could be in intensive care in a few months’ time, based on the second-best scenario of new modelling by Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team)

In a stark warning to Senators the Minister added “we’re going to have to start building up surge capacity for ICU now in case it happens”.

The numbers in hospital have doubled in the last three weeks “and because of exponential growth they will continue to double”.

Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, a further 1,380 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for Covid-19, the North’s Department of Health reported on Friday. There were no further fatalities.

It is the highest reported daily figure since the peak of the third wave of the pandemic in January, and almost 300 higher than Thursday’s total of 1,089.

The number of people being treated for Covid-19 in the North’s hospitals is also rising, up from 80 on Thursday to 92 on Friday. Two patients are in intensive care.

The average number of infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days now stands at 274 in Northern Ireland; Derry and Strabane has the highest figure, at 407.

On Thursday the North’s Minister for Health, Robin Swann, warned of a spike in Covid-19 cases, which he said was a “cause for concern” and urged anyone who has not come forward for vaccination to do so.

Meanwhile the digital app which will allow people from Northern Ireland to prove they have been vaccinated when travelling abroad is due to be launched next week.

The interim vaccine certification process has also been extended, with people who are travelling abroad between July 20 and 25th now able to access a downloadable certificate and QR code.

The Department said anyone travelling after July 25th should wait for the launch of the app, with further details - including how and when to apply - to be made available shortly.