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COVID-19: Ireland in 'precarious' position but vaccine rollout having 'significant impact'

Progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19 has stalled in recent days, according to the Deputy C...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.31 13 Mar 2021


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COVID-19: Ireland in 'precario...

COVID-19: Ireland in 'precarious' position but vaccine rollout having 'significant impact'

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.31 13 Mar 2021


Share this article


Progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19 has stalled in recent days, according to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Dr Ronan Glynn said the country remains in a "precarious position" and has urged people not to lose the gains made so far.

The five-day average of cases is now 523 and NPHET has warned that the UK variant will make it harder to reduce the numbers.

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It comes as 10 coronavirus-related deaths and 646 new cases were confirmed yesterday.

Dr Nuala O'Connor, from the Irish College of GPs, echoed Dr Glynn's comments in agreeing that we are at "a very precarious time" with the virus.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh, she said it's important everyone sticks with the restrictions as "we've made enormous strides but we need to keep going".

Dr O'Connor said 90% of the circulating virus in Ireland is the more transmissible strain that originated in the UK.

"If we drop our guard and if we start to mix more with people then this could really take off again," she said.

She urged people to continue adhering to the public health guidelines so that in four or five weeks, we will have "more options" with regard to the easing of some restrictions.

Dr O'Connor added that the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine is already having "a really significant impact in our country".

She described as "incredible wins" the fact that there's been a "huge fall off "in the number of healthcare workers becoming infected in hospitals, patients acquiring the virus in hospitals, and outbreaks in nursing homes.

covid-19 ICU An ambulance outside the Mater Hospital in Dublin. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

Vaccines

It emerged last night that 20% of GP practices will not receive their scheduled supply of COVID-19 vaccines next week.

It will affect 100 of the 500 practices who were due to get their first doses for the 75 to 79 age group.

The HSE says, due to a supply problem, it will prioritise deliveries for two other age-groups.

It wants to complete first-dose vaccinations for people aged 80 to 84, and give second doses for the over-85s.

Despite this, Dr O'Connor said that by May a "very significant amount of vulnerable people vaccinated against COVID-19".

"What we have always been trying to do with this vaccine, which is the principle of the vaccine programme, is to vaccine those who are the highest risk of severe disease, hospitalisation or death, and that is related to age," she said.

"It has taken us almost four weeks to ensure that all of our over-85s are vaccinated and it's only this week that the house-bound over 85s who couldn't come into the surgery are beginning to be vaccinated by our national ambulance service colleagues.

"Then we moved on to the 80-plus but what has happened now is because it's staggered over a three-week programme, some practices are ahead of others.

"So for instance, my own practice is one of 100 practices that's going to be affected next week.

Dr O'Connor said they were ready to administer the second dose of the vaccine to over-85s and then move on to the 75-79 age group, but the practice is now not going to receive enough supplies to vaccinate all those in the 75-79 cohort.

"That's to ensure my colleagues in other practices can ensure over the next two weeks we get all of the over-80s done," she explained.

"You would love to give everyone of a particular age the vaccine on the same day but that's not possible, so what we're trying to do is that over a two-week gap, we will kind of even it out.

She added that it was "very frustrating for patients", with some who were booked in for their vaccine now being told that their appointment is cancelled.

Dr O'Connor said the "bumpy" supply of the vaccine "is frustrating for everybody" but is not something in the control of GPs.

Main image: A man wearing a face mask passes by a shuttered shop in Dublin City centre. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

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Coronavirus Covid-19 Covid-19 Ireland Covid-19 Vaccine Dr Ronan Glynn ICU Admissions NPHET

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