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Ireland 'starting to see effects' of entering Phase Three nearly two weeks on, de Gascun says

Dr Cillian de Gascun said the increased rise in daily cases is “concerning”, but not fully unexpected.

File image of Dr Cillian de Gascun in May.
File image of Dr Cillian de Gascun in May.
Image: LEAH FARRELL; RollingNews.ie

IRELAND IS “STARTING to see the effects” of entering Phase Three as daily case numbers reach 20+ nearly two weeks since restrictions were eased, Dr Cillian de Gascun has said. 

De Gascun, the Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL), said it is “concerning” to see daily figures of 20+ new cases in recent days.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra, de Gascun said this increase in cases was “to be expected” after the country reopened much more than in previous phases. 

“The incubation period for this virus is up to 14 days, we’re now sort of 12 days on from June 29 and really we’re starting to see the effects of that reopening,” he said. 

“We have seen a couple of numbers in the 20s over the past few days, that is concerning. 

We expected to see more cases as things open up, that was kind of to be expected, but equally you don’t want to see them up to that high level.

Yesterday, health officials were notified of one further death and 25 additional cases of Covid-19. 

“To take people back to March and just to highlight how important this is, we started the process of implementing restrictions in March because we had 27 cases. We’re now at 25,” de Gascun said.

The difference now, he noted, is that health officials know where the 25 cases are located and in most cases where their origins lie. 

“It’s not as if we have 25 cases sprouting up around the country and we have no idea where they’re coming from,” de Gascun said.  

Public health officials recently warned that they are seeing an increase in the number of cases among young people after 17 of the 23 of Thursday’s cases were under the age of 25.

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NPHET believes the disease was passed on through socialising in a number of those cases.

Furthermore, 15 of Thursday’s confirmed cases were directly or indirectly related to travel and the R number is now at or just above 1.

On cases coming in from overseas, de Gascun reiterated previous comments that testing at airports is “not sufficiently sensitive to identify all of the people infected”. 

He said this testing would generate “a huge number of false positives”. 

“You will miss more cases than you will find unfortunately,” reasoning that people may not test positive in most cases for a number of days after they have been infected.   

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