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'Don't be scared': HSE chief urges public to be diligent this weekend after sharp increase in Covid-19 cases

Eighty-five new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed yesterday in a worrying escalation.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

HSE CHIEF PAUL Reid has asked people not to be scared but diligent this bank holiday weekend following a sharp increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in Ireland.  

Reid said the 85 new cases of Covid-19 reported yesterday are concerning but “it doesn’t need to be a trend”. 

“The performance of this virus is all about what we do today. Enjoy your weekend, keep your distance, wear a mask. Don’t be scared…be diligent…be safe,” Reid tweeted.  

His comments echo those of Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn who said this morning that rise in cases was “cause for concern” but that it is not a time for a knee-jerk reaction.

18 of the cases yesterday were associated with a factory in Naas, Kildare. Glynn said all workers there had been tested and in total the outbreak was linked to 30 to 40 cases of the disease.

The outbreak in the factory is also linked to an outbreak among Direct Provision residents. 

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Glynn said he understands that the Direct Provision residents have been moved to City West, along with a number of close contacts. 

Glynn said the jump in confirmed cases were “cause for concern” but that it was the time for a knee jerk reaction. He said National Public Health Emergency Team is hopeful that we’re seeing evidence of the contact tracing system working well.

He said the NPHET are never surprised when it sees big clusters as the virus is “really really infectious”.

“Unfortunately, we’re never surprised with this virus when we see big clusters like this because we know that this virus is really really infectious. Even if people are doing the right thing, there will be times when this spreads quickly, particularly when people are working in close proximity to each other,” he said. 

What we’re hopeful of is that the numbers yesterday reflect the rapid response to those clusters. The rapid testing of hundreds of contacts associated with those clusters, and the identification and isolation of cases within both clusters.

“This virus loves when people come into contact with one another because it transmits from one person to the other,” he said, noting that yesterday’s numbers also consisted of clusters linked to families and extended families. 

“As we keep saying that the key thing with this virus is that you don’t have to be sick and to transmit.

So if you’re going out this weekend, if you’re meeting your friends, if you’re meeting up at your family, don’t assume that because they’re feeling well, because they don’t have any symptoms that they’re not infectious.

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“We have to assume that everybody we meet is potentially at risk of infecting and we have to act appropriately.” 

NPHET is due to give advice next week on whether Ireland can enter into Phase Four and whether pubs can re-open on 10 August.

Glynn said that for now the focus needs to be on the next 24 hours and if the 85 cases lead to a further, jump, or whether it’s a blip. 

“Hopefully, it’s a blip and in that case, we will give consideration as planned to the next phase. But as I said last night, next week is quite a distance off at this stage.”

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Adam Daly

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