Dr Ronan Glynn, acting Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health
Nearly 5,000 new cases in a week has caused a 110% spike in Covid-19 infections in Ireland according to the doctor leading the fight against what is now the third wave of the pandemic to hit Ireland.
Speaking on the day it was announced that Level 5 restrictions would be reimposed and nearly 1,000 new cases were confirmed, Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, issued the appeal due to his serious concern at what has happened and what the impact will be.
“The current trajectory of the disease in the community is of grave concern. In the last seven days to midnight Monday, we have reported 4,478 cases, an increase of more than 110% over the preceding week. In the last 5 days, we have seen extraordinary growth in the incidence of the virus across the country, significantly increasing the level of risk associated with the kind of inter-generational mixing that is normally experienced over the Christmas holidays.
"To protect ourselves, our families and our vulnerable loved ones in particular, further economic and social restrictions will begin to be introduced from Christmas Eve. It is up to each one of us to rethink our plans for this Christmas period, especially when it comes to visiting older or more medically vulnerable family members and friends," he said.
The head of the National Public Health Emergency Team highlighted the impact of the vaccine but reiterated the need to follow the guidance to suppress the disease.
“With the authorisation of the first COVID-19 vaccine by the European Commission yesterday, our national vaccine programme can begin in the very near future and this gives us cause for hope. However, widespread vaccination of the population will take time, so we need to continue to adhere to the public health advice on handwashing, keeping 2m distance, wearing face coverings where appropriate, covering our coughs and reducing our social contacts for the duration of the Level 5 restrictions. By working together we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard our schools and our hospitals,” he said.
Other officials figures show that 93,664 tests have been completed in the last seven days with 13,216 people being tested in 24 hours. The positivity rate has risen to nearly 5% which is higher than the 4% rate fro the pandemic in Ireland.
Nearly 2.3 million tests have been carried out since February with more than 85,500 returning as positive.
Just 1% of infections are due to foreign travel with 67% caused by close contacts and 30% due to community transmission.