Michael Staines
Michael Staines

08.00 1 Oct 2020


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Life could be close to normal by Christmas if the right actions are taken now, according to one public health expert.

The National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting today to discuss the latest rise in coronavirus cases across the country.

Last night, the acting Chief Medical Officer said case numbers are going in the “wrong direction” in every country in the State.

Dr Ronan Glynn said the 'window of opportunity' to stop the spread becoming a national issue is closing.

Christmas

On Breakfast Briefing with Shane Beatty this morning, DCU Health Systems Professor Anthony Staines said Australia is now aiming for a zero-COVID situation after getting a large outbreak in the state of Victoria under control.

He said we could have our lives back by Christmas if we take similar action now.

“It is hard and it is tough but the benefits of getting this virus under control [are huge],” he said.

“We could all have our lives back by Christmas if we pull together; if we have the right policies and the right strategies.

“The vast majority of the Irish people will get behind this. That is what the opinion polls say.”

COVID-19 transmission

At last night’s COVID briefing, health officials outlined how one couple infected 30 other people by attending a house party after a trip away from home.

Professor Staines said people continue to spread the virus without knowing they are infected.

“This is not a case of malevolent people going around to infect their friends and their enemies,” he said. “But many people are spreading this virus, not realising they are sick and not realising how fast it can spread.

“That story that was told at the briefing last night, that is very typical; that is what happens and that is why the virus is going out of control across large areas of the country. That is what we have to change if we want to bring it down.”

"Wrong direction"

At the briefing, Dr Glynn said the incidence rate of the virus has exploded in the past two months.

“In July, we had an incidence rate of less than five per 100,000,” he said. “Tonight, nationally, it is over 90 per 100,00.

“There is no county that hasn’t seen cases in the last 14 days and there is no county, really, that is not seeing an increasing incidence. Some counties are relatively stable but overall, every county is unfortunately going in the wrong direction.”

He said there were 130 COVID-19 patients in hospital last night, with 15 people admitted in the past 24 hours.

“That is a concerning trend,” he said. “We will monitor it closely but the sooner people act, the sooner we can turn the tide on this.”

Hospital

Meanwhile, the chair of the COVID-19 modelling group again warned that it is not just the elderly that end up in hospital.

Dr Philip Nolan said almost 60% of the 269 people who have been hospitalised since August were under the age of 65 and one-in-five were under 40-years-old.

There were 429 new confirmed cases announced last night alongside one further death.


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