Coronavirus now rampant in Ireland, health chief warns
Covid-19 is now rampant in Irish communities, the head of the the country’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said.
Paul Reid said a whole set of “worst-case scenarios” have come together to create “explosive impacts”.
“The virus is absolutely rampant now in the community, we know that for a fact,” he said.
“Everybody is extremely high risk now of contracting the virus. We really need our vulnerable groups to be on our highest guard, everybody. There’s no doubt our health service is on what we would call high alert.”
He urged the public to stay at home and adhere to public health advice.
“We really need everybody to take the real appropriate actions that we’re calling out to everybody to do, which in essence is retract. Retract back to our homes, reduce our contacts drastically and really protect ourselves in the coming days and weeks.”
His remarks come against the backdrop of soaring case numbers, rising intensive care levels and deaths linked to the disease.
Nphet has warned there are about 4,000 positive cases in the past few days that have yet to be officially confirmed.
Yesterday, another 12 deaths linked to Covid-19 and an additional 1,620 cases were confirmed.
As of 8am this morning, there were 508 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals across the country, including 42 in intensive care units.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said public health actions had moved from containment to mitigation because the disease is no longer in control.
He tweeted: “We have very high levels of community transmission of #Covid19. We find, test and trace to isolate cases/restrict contacts as CONTAINMENT or ‘control’ actions. With the disease now not in control, we focus our public health actions on MITIGATION.”
He said mitigation of the virus means focusing testing on the symptomatic; asking those with symptoms, waiting for a test result or who have tested positive to self-isolate for 10 days; advising close contacts to restrict movements for 14 days; and asking all others to stay at home.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Minister warned it may be necessary to extend the strictest (Level 5) coronavirus restrictions past the end of January.
Simon Coveney described the challenge ahead of trying to tackle the latest wave as a “significant one”.
“We have taken the decision in a way that’s consistent with Nphet to move to a full Level 5 set of restrictions until the end of January and it may be necessary to go even beyond that,” he told RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland programme.