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03 Dec 2021

'Marginal change' in behaviour could bring Covid-19 'back under control'

NPHET

coronavirus covid-19

Staff must have swabs taken for Covid-19 testing Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise

A marginal change in people's behaviour could bring Covid-19 "back under control", Professor Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has said.

The Chair of NPHET's Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group spoke on RTE's Morning Ireland radio show. 

"Unless we can pull back our level of contacts, work from home and be very careful about our priority contacts, we are heading for a very challenging December," Prof Nolan. 

"If we follow the public advice, then it's entirely possible that we will bring this back under control, and then allow the booster programme do its job through Christmas and into the spring, and help us suppress the virus in spring," he said. 

Over the last two to three weeks, he said, daily cases have gone from 2,000 to 4,300 and he warned that if nothing else changes Ireland is on a "trajectory towards very large case numbers and very large numbers of people in hospital coinciding with Christmas".

The risk that 450 people may need intensive care by Christmas is "possible" but he said they "are trying to do everything we can do avert that scenario".

He said those models have only just been run and they will rerun them again next week.

A reproduction number of 1.2 or 1.3 is not that far above 1, he said, but is "enough to sustain a rapidly escalating epidemic".

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