NPHET: Moderate increase in close contacts could result in 578,000 cases of Covid-19 in the next six months
NPHET projected that increased social contact could lead to a peak of 9,500 cases a day in Ireland in the coming months.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) projected that an increase in close social contact could lead to a peak of 9,500 cases of Covid-19 per day in Ireland and as many as 578,000 cases in total in the next six months.
In a letter sent to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Monday (29 March), ahead of a government announcement on the easing of restrictions yesterday, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronan Glynn outlined a “moderate scenario” in which such a high number of cases could arise.
The letter also details a base conservative scenario, with current or marginal increases in close social contact from 5 April 2021, that would result in approximately 80,000 cases by the end of September, with a peak of around 920 per day.
A second “low” scenario projects 199,000 cases over the same time period, while the “moderate” scenario is associated with seven times the level of infection outlined in the base scenario.
A four-week delay in an increase in close social contacts until 3 May, the letter outlines, would reduce the number of cases in the “low” scenario by a projected 25% and the “moderate” scenario by 50%. An eight-week delay (until 31 May) would reduce the number of cases in both scenarios by 50% and 70% respectively.
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Across all three scenarios, the letter details, cases initially increase until the vaccination programme in Ireland starts to suppress transmission from the end of May.
You can see the projections and read the letter from Dr. Ronan Glynn to Stephen Donnelly in full here.
Speaking on Wednesday, after a further 411 cases of Covid-19 and six deaths were announced, Glynn said: "There is a critical window over the next eight weeks where any significant increase in close contact is likely to lead to a significant fourth wave of infection in the range of that experienced in January 2021.
"We can and should be optimistic for an enjoyable summer ahead but, in the meantime, we have to continue to work together to prevent a further wave of infection as we accelerate vaccination across society and maintain our health services."
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that 70% of the population should be fully inoculated against Covid-19 by the end of July.
Martin also confirmed that a national portal allowing the public to register for an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccine is due to go live before the end of next month.
As of last Sunday (28 March) there had been 806,541 doses of Covid-19 vaccines administered in Ireland.
By that date, 580,857 people had received their first dose and 225,684 people had received their second dose.