The number of COVID cases is surging in Ireland’s tourist hotspots as people flock to the coast to mingle with friends and family.
Kerry is Ireland’s COVID capital at the moment with 271.5 per 100,000 recorded in the last two weeks of May, while in the picturesque Dingle Peninsula the case rate is 345.5 per 100,000.
Nationwide, the number of cases currently stands at 172.4 per 100,000 people and there are currently 271 hospital patients who have contracted the virus - a 50% rise since last week.
For Clíona O'Farrelly, Professor of Comparative Immunology at Trinity College, the figures are unsurprising given the end of restrictions and the beginning of the summer social season:
“It’s entirely expected,” Professor O'Farrelly told The Pat Kenny Show.
“Our behaviour has completely changed. We no longer do social distancing, we’re not wearing our masks, we’re in crowds!
“I mean people saw what was happening in the airport and the vast majority of us are vaccinated. So many of us who pick up an infection will pass it on without knowing it.”
However, the number of people in hospital in intensive care remains low compared to other waves of the virus. At the moment, there are only 23 COVID patients in intensive care - less than a quarter than there were in January.
For Professor O'Farrelly, it is yet more proof that Ireland’s high vaccination rate is protecting people:
“The vaccines have been just amazing,” she enthused.
“They’re far from perfect. We know they don’t work in absolutely everybody and we know that many people still get infected.
“But a whole load of people don’t get infected.”
Currently, the HSE has administered 3,059,783 booster vaccines to people living in Ireland.
Main image: People walk along a beach.