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'All of the efforts are to reduce congregation': CMO outlines urgency of fresh Dublin restrictions

The number of Covid-19 cases where the source of the infection is unknown has escalated dramatically in the capital.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn.
Image: Sam Boal

THE ACTING CHIEF Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has stressed the importance of Dublin residents abiding by newly introduced Covid-19 restrictions and explained why the measures are neccessary.

At a live press conference this evening Dr Glynn outlined that there have been over 1,600 cases of Covid-19 in Dublin in the last two weeks. The cases have been spread across all areas of the city and county. This represents more than half of the cases reported in the country during this time frame.

The government’s most senior health advisor explained that this escalation “inevitably” caused the number of hospitalisations to dramatically increase and the number of deaths to rise.

The growth rate in cases is between 5-7% per day. Without action the number of daily cases could climb to 1,000 by the middle of October. However, Dr Glynn noted that the drastic outcome can be avoided if people reduce their number of contacts. 

“If we all cut our social contacts by half we can cut the reproductive rate of this virus by half,” he said.

Dr Glynn explained that the overarching objective of the Level three restrictions is to cut down people’s discretionary social contacts because more important contacts, such as those needed for healthcare and education need to be prioritised:

Our priorities over the next three weeks must be to slow the spread of this virus, so that our health service can continue and people can get the vital care that they need for other illnesses; so that the successful resumption of education of our children can continue and so that those who are most vulnerable in our society are protected.

He said with the anticipated increase in hospitalisations, NPHET had to take measures to reduce congregation.

“We have choices to make when we decide to reduce congregation. So it can be education, it can be healthcare, it can be restaurants and other social settings, and in that context, Level 3, unfortunately, is about making really tough decisions to reduce social congregation.”

Dr Glynn acknowledged that the number of identified clusters of the disease stemming from restaurants is low. However, he added that the number of cases of community transmission, where the source of the infection is not known, has climbed to between 750 and 1,000 in the last two weeks.

“These are cases where we don’t know where the person got the virus from, the person themselves can’t identify where they got the virus. So, based on what we know about the virus, we know that people pick it up when they meet other people,” he said.

Essentially it’s where people congregate. All of the efforts in Level three are to reduce this congregation.

Dr Glynn urged people to “prioritise” who they need to see, advising residents of the capital to see half the number of people in the coming week as they saw last week.

The acting chief medical officer made a specific appeal to teenagers and people in the 20s and 30s to abide by the guidelines:

I know that what has been and what is being asked again of you is extraordinary. This pandemic has impacted on your education, your employment, your relationships and your social lives.
But the disease is also spreading disproportionally amongst younger people at present. So I’m asking you to stick with this and follow the advice once again over the next few weeks.

Any one who experiences symptoms of the virus was asked to self-isolate, contact their GP and get a free Covid-19 test if appropriate. Anyone who is informed that they were a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case is being urged to take the free test.

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The fresh restrictions will come into force in Dublin from midnight.

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Ceimin Burke

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