The recent plateau in coronavirus figures is “concerning,” but there is still time to get things under control for the Christmas season.
There were 429 new confirmed cases of the virus announced last night, alongside four additional deaths.
Ireland’s 14-day rate is now 116.5 cases per 100,000 people, with 3.7% of the 76,875 tests carried out in the last week coming back positive.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, HSE Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) Dr Colm Henry said the first few weeks of Level Five restrictions were extremely effective; however, figures have remained largely unchanged for the past week.
“Yes, it's concerning that the fall has stalled,” he said. “We saw a dramatic fall, up to last week, of 6% per day.
“In fact, we were the second-best performing country in Europe, in terms of that drop and that still remains the case when we look at what's happening in mainland Europe.
“We've been asked from the very beginning, 'what if something happens in two to three weeks’ time' as if we are passive bystanders, watching something play out in front of us – that's not the case.
“What I would say to anybody listening today is, we still have the power to create the widest possible amount of options for ourselves in two or three weeks time
“That R value we all talk about as if it's some inanimate figure that means nothing to us is the cumulative sum total of a million small behaviours throughout society and each and every one of us has a part to play in that.”
"Tá neart againn air"
He said it is important not to understate how far we have come since October.
“In Europe, we saw 280,000 cases alone in France one week,” he said.
“The ECDC assessment of health care systems in mainland Europe is very bleak, based on the pressures they're seeing in the acute hospital system and ICUs.
“We've avoided that scenario for the second time in this country through the cumulative actions of everybody in this country.”
Dr Henry said any move to ease restrictions in December will be “ultimately a decision for government.”
“They have the unenviable task of making decisions based on wider interest, but I would say, 'tá neart againn air,' we have the power within us to do something about this still,” he said.
“I would appeal to everybody to play their part. Everybody's behaviour plays into that R value. We all play into it.”