Delta variant accounts for 20% of new Covid cases, Holohan warns

‘Concerning increase’ in variant reported as 284 more coronavirus cases are confirmed

 Vaccinations taking place at the  HSE vaccination centre in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Vaccinations taking place at the HSE vaccination centre in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Latest Covid-19 figures show a “concerning increase in transmission of the Delta variant in Ireland”, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has said.

“We estimate that Delta accounts for up to 20% of cases reported in the last week.

“We have also seen a number of outbreaks associated with this variant reported in the last week,” Dr Holohan said in Twitter post on Monday evening.

“This is similar to a pattern being seen in a number of other EU member states. In the UK, Delta has been the dominant strain of Covid-19 for a number of weeks and now they are beginning to experience a rise in hospitalisations.”

The Department of Health said that as of midnight on Sunday there were 284 additional confirmed cases of Covid-19. A total of 13 people were in ICU and 53 were in hospital.

Dr Holohan said: “It is really important that people who are not fully vaccinated continue to follow all public health advice. This includes people who are waiting for their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

People should take a vaccine when it is offered to them and in the meantime they should continue to avoid crowds, limit contacts, avoid meeting up indoors and work from home where possible.

Earlier, the HSE’s vaccination programme lead, Damien McCallion, said people in their 20s should receive their first Covid-19 vaccine dose in August and be fully vaccinated by the end of September.

It is anticipated that all people in their 30s will receive their first dose in June or July and their second jab in July or August, Mr McCallion added. These projections are based on expected deliveries, but there is “more stability” in the supply chains now, he told RTÉ’s News at One radio programme.

He was speaking on Monday as the vaccine portal opened for 38-year-olds, with registrations due to progress down through the ages to 30-year-olds over the coming days. Those registering in this period will start to get notice of their vaccine appointments from the middle of this week for dates over the next three weeks or so, he said.

Mr McCallion said the HSE is still finishing vaccinations for people in their 40s this week, and he urged anyone who is older and who has not yet registered to do so.

More than 340,000 vaccinations were administered last week, which Mr McCallion said was the “biggest week ever” for the rollout. The cyber attack on the HSE’s IT systems continues to affect vaccine data from general practitioners, but speaking in “broad terms” Mr McCallion confirmed close to two-thirds of the adult population had received at least one dose, while about 35 per cent of adults were fully vaccinated.

“We are in a particularly busy period these last few weeks,” he said, adding that there would be over 300,000 doses administered in each of the next three weeks if supply holds.

“We have two of the biggest deliveries coming into the country in the next two weeks,” Mr McCallion said. Over 318,000 Pfizer doses are due to be delivered in that time, before there is a “lull in supply”, he said. The change of advice for some of the vaccine brands would see those products “no longer used from this period going forward”, he added.

Earlier the director general of the HSE, Paul Reid, told Newstalk Breakfast that this boost in supplies of the Pfizer vaccine would enable a strong rollout over the next three weeks. After that supplies would drop to around 200,000 doses delivered per week, he said.

He expressed confidence that there will be a good “take up” of the Covid-19 vaccine among young people. Surveys have indicated that there was still quite a strong interest in getting the vaccine among younger age groups in Ireland, he said. Over 47,000 had registered after the vaccine booking portal opened for people aged 39 on Sunday, he added.

As of Monday, 35 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated, and Mr Reid anticipated that around 70 per cent would have received their first jab by the end of June.

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