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20th Oct 2021

Covid-19 pandemic now growing again in Ireland – NPHET

Dave Hanratty

Covid wind back social contacts Philip Nolan

Professor Philip Nolan cited “a whole set of changes in society” for the rise in cases.

Professor Philip Nolan has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is once again growing in Ireland as 2,148 new cases of the virus were confirmed on Wednesday.

464 patients are in hospital with Covid, with 86 of those in intensive care units.

155 deaths related to the virus have been recorded for September, while 72 deaths have been reported for the month of October so far.

A total of 24,641 new cases have been recorded in the past fortnight.

Speaking at a briefing of the National Public Health and Emergency Team, Nolan pointed to a steady increase in the number in ICU from 60 four weeks ago to 74 on average in the past week.

“It’s important to note that at the point that schools reopened, incidence was declining,” said Nolan.

“It was declining because young adults were finishing out the vaccination programme. Incidence remained stable for several weeks after the reopening of schools and then, following events in late September, case numbers began to rise very rapidly.

“We’re not suggesting that it’s simply the slow return to workplaces that was announced around the 20th of September that has led to this rise,” Nolan continued.

“What the data tells us and what the behavioural data tells us is that there were a whole set of changes in society, many of them in anticipation of the measures that were planned for the 22nd of October that meant our population behaviour began to change in late September and that triggered this latest wave of the disease.”

Drilling down into that behaviour, Professor Nolan cited a number of factors including increased social contact indoors, a high incidence rate prior to the completion of the vaccine programme, “early and hard exposure” to the Delta variant and the mitigation of reduced risk.

“We do know that vaccination offers very high protection against severe disease,” Nolan added.

“We do know that vaccination offers really significant protection against becoming infected. But that protection is incomplete. So, it’s possible to be vaccinated and have Covid-19 and it’s possible to be vaccinated, be infected with it and transmit it onwards.

“I think too many of us are assuming that because we’re vaccinated, those symptoms we are experiencing are not Covid and therefore running the risk of transmitting it onto others.”

Asked about the potential of more severe restrictions or a return to lockdown over Christmas, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said he “wouldn’t go that far” while stressing the importance of following the current guidelines.

It is expected that the mortality rate associated with the virus will rise over the course of the coming weeks.

A total of 5,369 deaths have been reported in the Republic of Ireland in relation to the virus, though that number could change due to future data validation.

“What we have to do is to continue to advise on the course of the disease,” Holohan noted earlier in the press conference.

“We think that the [current] measures are appropriate. Although I think perhaps some of the portrayal of this – nightclubs being open, pubs being open later – might give the impression that everything is great, that isn’t the case. We each, individually and collectively, have to take on responsibility in order for this to work.”

Featured Image via Sam Boal /

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