The vaccine programme alone will not be capable of supressing the Delta variant over winter, the Chief Medical Officer is set to warn TDs.
In his submission to the Oireachtas Health Committee, Dr Tony Holohan will warn that Ireland will depend on “public understanding and buy-in to the basic public health measures” to keep the virus in check.
He will also warn that NPHET “cannot full rule out” the re-introduction of public health restrictions in the future.
Dr Holohan will note that the number of coronavirus patients in hospital has started to reduce and the number in intensive care has stabilised.
He will also point out that Ireland’s death rate remains low relative to our high case rate.
He will tell the committee however, that Ireland is still dealing with a high incidence of disease with an uncertainty trajectory – noting that while cases are falling among 13 to 24-year-olds, they are rising among five to 12-year-olds.
“This trend, and in particular the impact of the return to school and the opening of the third level sector, will continue to be monitored closely over the coming weeks,” he will say.
He will noted that while the majority of infections are happening in the young unvaccinated population – the overall case-load is resulting in a “significant number of infections in older, vaccinated people.”
Meanwhile, the number of outbreaks in settings like nursing homes has increased in recent weeks and is being monitored.
Dr Holohan will say that the country’s virus response in the coming months will need:
- Clear guidance and communication for the public on the disease and what they can do to reduce risk.
- A focus on the importance of rapid self-isolation for anyone who is symptomatic.
- A ‘partnership approach’ between employers and employees to ensure everyone understands the importance of self-isolation when symptomatic.
- Mask wearing in healthcare settings, indoor retail, and public transport.
- Robust public health surveillance and response capacities, including testing, contact tracing, surveillance and sequencing capacities for COVID-19.
“We cannot predict with certainty the future trajectory of the disease and, consequently, we cannot fully rule out the possibility that the reintroduction of measures may be required in the future,” Dr Holohan will say.
“We must continue to ensure our response is agile and flexible, with an ability to pivot rapidly and respond to any emerging threat.”
This evening, a further 1,181 COVID cases were announced.
This morning there were 309 coronavirus patients in hospital – a 16% decrease on this day last week.
There were 60 in intensive care – up one on last week.