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File image of Professor Philip Nolan. Leah Farrell
third wave

'Stay at home, stop socialising': Ireland 'clearly' in third wave of pandemic, Philip Nolan says

The CMO Dr Tony Holohan said this wave is “happening much, much sooner after the last one”.

PEOPLE IN IRELAND have been urged to revise their plans and stay at home this Christmas due to the “rapid change” in the country’s Covid-19 situation.

The chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan said the country is “clearly now in a third wave of this pandemic” as 727 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed this evening.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that “really at this stage it’s really important that people stay at home, that they really stop socialising”.

“It’s not a time now for going out to restaurants and pubs even though the opportunities are there. We recognise that the situation has changed and is changing very very quickly, and we’re trying to evaluate things such as the potential role of this new variant that we’ve heard so much about in recent days.

We think that now, it’s very important that people revise any plans that they may have had.

“People may well have listened to us over the course the last couple of weeks, thought ahead, planned ahead. It’s now time to look again at those plans.”

Holohan said if people have been socialising in recent times, that “now is the time you can take the responsible action of staying away” from vulnerable or older people over the festive period. 

The current five-day average of the disease in Ireland is 616 cases per day. Nolan said the epidemiological situation has seen a “very rapid change in a very short space of time” 

Nolan said the positivity rate for the coronavirus is “increasing rapidly”, currently standing at 5.2%. 

He said this shows there is “widespread transmission of the virus in the community”. 

The situation in Dublin is “now is as bad as it was at the peak of the October wave”, Nolan said. 

He also said that last week, the incidence of the disease increased across different parts of the population, including a “very concerning increase” in those aged over 85. 

Nolan added that in this third wave of the pandemic, people aged over 85 are “catching the virus early” which was not the case in the second wave. 

The R-number was last week estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3. Nolan said an estimate will be made tomorrow for the current rate, but it is “clearly higher”, potentially as high as 1.5 to 1.6. 

Tony Holohan said the advice is to limit your interactions with other people as much as possible, even on Christmas Day. 

The chance of you running into this virus out there in the community, in the way in which you socialise and if you continue to socialise, is high and getting higher and the most responsible thing that you could do now stay at home and stay at home with the people that you live with, try and limit your social contract with other people as much as possible, have as safe a Christmas as possible to try and protect those people who are most vulnerable in particular.

He said the current third wave is “happening much, much sooner after the last one”.

Philip Nolan said: “We need to revise our Christmas plans to limit numbers and duration and whatever we’re doing, take every precaution.”

Nolan also issued a reminder to not delay presentation if you have symptoms over the Christmas period. 

He said people should not “give it an extra couple of days to see how bad it gets” if they feel sick, and should immediately self-isolate and seek referral for testing if symptomatic. 

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