Longer lockdown looms unless we 'get back on track' urges Dr Tony Holohan as he warns Level 5 momentum 'stalls'

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

coronavirus covid-19

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, is back pleading with the public after momentum stalls

Government promises that Covid-19 Level 5 restrictions will be lifted on December 1 look to be in the balance following the latest warnings and figures from the National Public Health Emergency Team that the battle against the disease has stalled in lockdown.

NPHET's head Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health made things clear for the public and politicians about what must be done if the country is to leave lockdown on December 1 in the daily statement issued on Thursday, November 19.

“In our objective to use a six-week period to drive down COVID-19 infection in the community, our progress has stalled in the last week.

“We now have two weeks to get back on track. Drive down the disease by limiting the number of daily contacts you have. Work from home, stay at home and follow public health advice to get us to a reproduction number below 0.5 by December 1,” he said.

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, which projects where the disease is at. He said the rate at which the disease is spreading is on the rise again. He said reducing contacts is the key way to reverse this to get to December 1 without facing an extension of restrictions.

“For three weeks we saw case numbers declining at a rate of 5 -7% per day and a reproduction number as low as 0.6. We are aware that case numbers have now stopped declining and as a consequence, the reproduction number has increased to an estimated 0.7- 0.9.

"The data strongly suggests that a small, recent increase in the level of social contacts has led to the increase in reproduction number we see now. A small additional effort to reduce our contacts will make a big difference to reduce disease incidence before December 1,” he said.

Dr Holohan's second in command who led the fight against the disease during the summer warned people that Covid-19 is as deadly as every. Dr Ronan Glynn is the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.

“Deaths associated with COVID-19 have increased by 18% in the European region over the past fortnight. Last week alone, Europe registered over 29,000 new deaths. That is one person dying every 17 seconds. We have made significant progress in Ireland over recent weeks, but the disease and its risks have not changed. Please continue in your efforts to follow public health advice, limit the transmission of COVID-19 in Ireland and protect those who are most vulnerable in our families and across our communities,” he said.

Dr. Colm Henry is the Chief Clinical Officer, HSE. He urged the public to do play their part in helping those at the Covid-19 frontline in hospital.

“This pandemic has placed huge demands on our healthcare workers in addition to the standard care of patients. Their work now involves additional infection prevention and control measures which require constant vigilance and awareness. The best way we all can show our appreciation for their work is by doing your part to reduce community transmission,” he said.