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stop the spread Ireland remains at ‘considerable risk’ of fourth wave, Dr Ronan Glynn says

It is my hope we never again have to recommend more restrictive measures’

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Dr Glynn says the trajectory of the virus in Ireland continues to head in a positive direction.

Dr Glynn says the trajectory of the virus in Ireland continues to head in a positive direction.

Dr Glynn says the trajectory of the virus in Ireland continues to head in a positive direction.

There were no new outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes in the last week, Dr Ronan Glynn told the Oireachtas Health Committee today.

This is the first week since July 2020 that there have been no new outbreaks in these settings, the acting chief medical officer said.

There are 48 people with Covid-19 in ICU as of this morning, the first time this number has dipped below 50 since New Year’s Day.

Dr Glynn said Ireland’s achievements in suppressing the virus while keeping schools open shouldn’t be underestimated as many countries in Europe have schools closed while their healthcare systems are under severe pressure.

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Dr Ronan Glynn said Ireland remains at a “considerable risk” of a fourth wave if restrictions are eased too quickly as incidence still remains high.

Dr Ronan Glynn said Ireland remains at a “considerable risk” of a fourth wave if restrictions are eased too quickly as incidence still remains high.

Dr Ronan Glynn said Ireland remains at a “considerable risk” of a fourth wave if restrictions are eased too quickly as incidence still remains high.

“We have more reasons to be hopeful than at any time to date during the pandemic,” he said.

“19pc of people in Ireland have had at least one vaccine dose while 8pc of all adults are fully vaccinated.

“Healthcare workers accounted for just 2pc of all cases of Covid-19 in the last 14 days, a fifth of the rate in December.

“The national 14-day incidence rate has fallen to 132 cases per 100,000 people, a reduction of 15pc on the previous week,” Dr Glynn said, adding that the National Public Health and Emergency Team (Nphet) are seeing good progress in the trajectory of the disease.

Ireland remains at a “considerable risk” of a fourth wave if restrictions are eased too quickly as incidence still remains high while the overall number of people vaccinated is still low, Dr Glynn cautioned.

Ireland can mitigate this risk if the levels of social contact remain “largely unchanged” over the next six weeks.

“The priority must remain on maintaining control over this disease, so that vaccination can offer a widespread population-level of protection.

“Nphet advice to Government continues to recommend a cautious approach while any further easing of measures should be gradual and phased, with adequate time between phases to assess the impact.”

Dr Glynn thanked the public and healthcare workers for their efforts and said: “It is my hope we never again have to recommend more restrictive measures. To achieve this, we must continue to hold the line in the coming weeks as our vaccine plan ramps up”.

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There are 46 confirmed cases of the South African variant to date in Ireland, with Dr Glynn stressing Nphet remain concerned about current levels of variants and possible levels of variants entering the country in future.

“In particular, we are concerned about their impact on the effectiveness of vaccines.”

Dr Glynn confirmed that there are now confirmed cases of mutations of the B117 UK variant within Ireland, and he said the B117 variant still remains a concern.

The five-day moving average saw a 23pc reduction in the previous week, proof that “collective efforts continue to make a real difference”.

While Dr Glynn said vaccine hesitancy is “always a concern” he said nine out of 10 people in Ireland will “either probably or definitely” take a vaccine when offered.

He said this level of uptake is a testament to the level of communication with the public of the data available on safety with NIAC and the HPRA illustrating that safety always comes first.

This level of confidence in the vaccination programme “can’t be taken for granted” Dr Glynn said, adding that messaging must continually be delivered to vulnerable sections of society and “hard to reach” groups.

The acting CMO said that anyone who is at a medically high or very high risk from Covid and has received their first dose of AstraZeneca, should receive their second dose as planned. The same applies for those over the age of 60.

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Vials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine (Yui Mok/PA)

Vials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine (Yui Mok/PA)

Vials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine (Yui Mok/PA)

Anyone under 60 not medically vulnerable who has received their first dose, their second dose will now occur 16 weeks after their first, to give NIAC more time to consider whether an alternative vaccine should be used for the second dose.

Dr Glynn says that fully vaccinated people can expect to be protected for at least six months but that the “evidence is promising” that protection may last for longer than this.

Dr Glynn said the European Medicines Agency has been monitoring the situation surrounding Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and its possible link to blood clots. Earlier today the US FDA recommended a pause on the vaccine to investigate these links.

Nphet and other public health colleagues will be monitoring the situation for further data.

It is Nphet’s hope that by the end of April, a plan will be set out with regard to lessening of restrictions from May and June, which can give people and businesses a greater indication of what to expect.

Nphet are not anticipating another lockdown but Dr Glynn says nothing can be ruled out.



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