Spike in Covid-related deaths lies ahead says Glynn

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Significant levels of Covid-19 mortality lie ahead, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn has warned.

“We are not going to get out of this without first having to unfortunately deal with very significant levels of mortality,” Dr Glynn said Thursday’s press briefing.

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Hospitals are under intense pressure and an optimistic outcome could see 800 being treated by the end of the month as 3,955 cases and 28 additional deaths were reported.

Over the week to Wednesday, on average of 23 patients a day have died and Dr Glynn said it would be some time until life returned to normal, adding Ireland had challenging weeks ahead.

“We are going to have to keep that hugely restricted level of social contact up for quite some weeks now to get those case numbers and the level of virus in the population down to a level that the risk of doing anything is very much lower than it is now,” he said.

Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said incidence of disease was 20 times greater than at the beginning of December.

One in 67 people have been notified of Covid diagnoses in the last 14 days and 44 per cent of all cases ever reported in the Republic were returned in the same two-week period.

 

Prof Nolan said even if things go well, there will be between 650 and 800 people in hospital by the end of the month and warned outbreaks could persist in the medical facilities for some time.

“From an epidemiological perspective, what we are seeing in this wave is different to what we have seen since springtime, and perhaps worse.

“The penetration of the virus throughout all ages of the population is a particular cause for serious concern, as is risk of severe disease that all of these people face.”

Signs of improvement

But he also said the country had “turned a corner” and the number of new infections was beginning to improve.

Prof Nolan added people’s efforts are now bringing about, almost certainly, the beginning of improvement in the fresh incidence rate.

Among adults cases, the number of contacts had fallen from 4.8 to roughly 2.3, but when you discounted household contacts, the number dropped to one.

The reproductive, or R number is now estimated to be between 1 and 1.3 over the last week, down from between 2.4 and 3 last week, but to further drive down this rate, Prof Nolan said we need to keep up current behaviours.

Referencing Google location services data, he noted the number of people attending their workplaces was much higher than during the first wave in April which posed a “real risk to suppression”.

Prof Nolan urged employers to facilitate remote working, encourage all employees to work from home where at all possible. Should employees return to their workplaces, he warned “the decline in case numbers will not be maintained”.

Asked about recommendations to be made to Government following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), Dr Glynn there will come a time when the easing of restrictions is considered but “now is not that time”.

Ireland

Covid-19: 3,955 cases, 28 additional deaths

“We have to be realistic that the basic public health measures will be in place for many months to come,” he said.

Dr Glynn added that the majority of people continue to comply with public health guidelines, and understood the frustration felt by those people when others do not adhere to the restrictions.

“Anyone that bends the rules to their own purpose, I would ask them to think again,” Dr Glynn added, saying that it is not too late for people to follow the public health guidance.

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