Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.42 14 Mar 2021


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Health officials are urging people to maintain their vigilance after a "blip" in progress in reducing the COVID-19 figures.

There has been an average of 545 new daily cases reported by NPHET so far this week.

It comes as 16 further deaths related to COVID-19 and 543 new cases were confirmed yesterday evening by NPHET.

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Regarding the nationwide distribution of the virus, ten counties recorded five cases or fewer in yesterday's figures.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn warned that progress in reducing the spread of coronavirus has stalled in recent days, with Ireland in a "precarious position" with the virus.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh, Dr Ray Walley, GP advisor to the HSE on COVID-19, said it is imperative for everyone to keep following the rules.

"Unfortunately, there has been a blip, certainly in north Dublin, there has been an increase in referrals," he said.

"We need to maintain our vigilance, it has been a long road for everybody, we've been at this one year.

"We still had the same blip last year when we were coming down, we had the same blip in November when we were coming down."

Dr Walley added that when people are tired or "fed up", mistakes are made and it is good to have a system in place where individuals ensure that people collectively are adhering to the guidelines.

"We need to keep focus and a lot of that has to be watching over each other...having a peer system where you go, 'You shouldn't do that, let's take a step back there', reinforcing the message, staying away from congregating, reinforcing washing the hands, reinforcing immediately contacting the GP out of hours or during the day with symptoms," he explained.

He said people with symptoms should "assume they have COVID" and should contact their GP immediately.

covid-19 Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health, pictured at the launch of the Department of Health and HSE COVID Tracker App last July. Photo: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Contact tracing system 'embarrassing

Professor Anthony Staines, a public health expert, has called for up to 2,000 more contact tracers to be hired to mitigate any possibility of another COVID-19 surge.

Professor Staines believes it is the only way to drive down infection rates enough for domestic travel this summer, and described the current state of our contact tracing system as "embarrassing".

"We have relied on lockdown as our only method of control for 12 months and that has got us to where we are now," he said.

"It could have been worse, Ireland has done mid-table among wealthier countries, but it could have been better.

"But if we want to have a reasonable chance of getting very modest things like holidays in Ireland this summer, we really need to act now.

He called for "a serious effort" to be put into public health and local contact tracing.

"The kindest thing one could say about it is it's embarrassing, this is a fundamental tool in controlling any serious infectious disease," Professor Staines stated.

"That it's in this condition 12 months into a major global pandemic has to raise questions, but it's not too late to fix it."

Main image: People out walking yesterday afternoon at Dun Laoghaire pier. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

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