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virus fears Holohan warns of 'sharp increase' in Covid-19 related deaths this month as cases continue to surge

Dr Holohan urged the public to refocus their efforts in implementing and adhering to public health measures in a bid to stop further transmission of the virus.

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Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Colin Keegan

Dr Tony Holohan

There will be a "sharp increase" in Covid-19 related deaths this month as a result of the surge in cases, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned.

Dr Holohan is urging the public to refocus their efforts in implementing and adhering to public health measures in a bid to stop further transmission of the virus.

He said January will "see a significant mulitple of the number of deaths" seen over November and December due to the rising level of community transmission now occuring as a result of the relaxtion of restrictions over the Christmas period.

"We now this morning have over 800 people in hospital. We're in the 70s now in terms of intensive care and it was only at the beginning of last week we had less than 30 in intensive care. That is the information we really need to look at in terms of where we need to direct our collective focus and energy," he told Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show.

"We will see a very sharp increase in mortality, I'm sorry to say that that will be the case. January will see a significant multiple of the number of deaths that we saw over the course of both November and December as a consequence of all of this.

"It's just we haven't seen it yet because it lags, but there's still an opportunity for people to to take the immediate measures to drive down these transmission habits as soon as possible."

It comes as 6,110 new cases of the virus and a further six Covid-19 related deaths were confirmed by the Department of Health yesterday evening.

Dr Holohan said public health experts believe that there is actually now "between 4,000 and 5,000" cases, and that the higher numbers reported yesterday were due to a delay in people coming forward to be tested.

"What's happened over the course the last number of days, and people will understand this, that over the Christmas period, you know Christmas Day, Stephen's Day and so on, we can see that very few people in relative terms came forward and were tested.

"We understand why people might be reluctant to come forward for for sampling over those kinds of days.

"And then that extra burden, if you like, that wasn't tested or those days came from for testing in the subsequent days, and we can see that in the data and that leads us to have a catch up number. So yesterday's number of 6,110 will include some people who are slightly older cases, other than the ones of recent day," he explained.

He said those who are suffering with cold or flu-like symptoms "might as well regard that as Covid," adding: "We know there's not any flu in effect in this population at the moment or other common winter respiratory viruses so if you have cold, flu like symptoms now, you can imagine that you have Covid.

"But if you're one of those people, if you have had a test you're waiting for test result, or if you've been told that you have Covid, you must self- isolate.

"It's really important that people know that that means that they stay away from other people in their households, they make arrangements to have washing and feeding and other facilities provided for them in a way that doesn't have them interacting with other people in their household.

"Anybody who lives with the person who's in that category is a close contact and a close contact needs to restrict their movements. That means staying out of work and staying out of contact with other people."

He said there is still a possibility that cases numbers can be brought back under control if public health measures are properly implemented.

"We need to get back to the spirit of March, we need to act like it's March again. We did this back then, we broke these chains of transmission.

"And we would we would express some optimism that if we can get that message across, we've seen a very sudden and sharp increase, and if we can begin to get these measures implemented we might see a significant decrease happening quite quickly in the interaction and I think they'll can give us a basis for encouragement, the faster we can do it, the greater protection for vulnerable people."

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