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Covid latest Professor Luke O’Neill warns that stronger measures will be needed if ICU figures surge

This comes as 3,805 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by the Department of Health this afternoon.

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Immunologist Luke O'Neill.

Immunologist Luke O'Neill.

Immunologist Luke O'Neill.

Immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill is calling on government to show “strong leadership” in the face of surging cases.

This comes as 3,805 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by the Department of Health this afternoon.

As of this morning, there are 106 Covid-19 patients in intensive care as hospital figures climbed once again to 582 - the highest figure since February 25 of this year.

The Trinity College professor said there’s no doubt that cases will rise further and that if ICU figures hit 150, then stronger measures will be required “no doubt”.

He said if the numbers keep increasing, further restrictions on society will be needed “for definite”.

Prof O’Neill said the public were crying out for clearer guidance and not messages like, “have five people around to your house instead of ten”.

Prof O’Neill said “we simply don’t know” what’s behind the surge in cases in Ireland despite the fact the country has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world.

“Every Western European country is in trouble with these numbers anyway, this is not surprising as it’s a respiratory virus so it will go up in the winter, so we’re all in the same boat in that respect.

“I think we need strong leadership now, most of all. This is going to be tough and there’s no question now that numbers are going to rise for the foreseeable future.

“The ICU beds is the key metric, let’s face it. They’re saying if that gets to 150 then we’re going to have to act more strongly. At the moment it’s around 100. If it gets to 150 then we’re in a far more serious situation and hospitalisation figures are also rising so we need strong leadership to tell the people what to do,” Prof O’Neill said on the Brendan O’Connor show on RTÉ Radio One.

“I think people want clearer guidelines,” Prof O’Neill said.

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Prof O’Neill said he believes a lockdown would be a “complete failure” but said further restrictions on society may be needed to protect our healthcare system as if that collapses, “it’s a complete disaster for everybody”.

The reintroduction of restrictions is happening all over Europe, Prof O’Neill said, but added Ireland probably shouldn’t go the route of Austria which has instituted a lockdown for unvaccinated people. This would lead to social conflict, Prof O’Neill said.

Prof O’Neill said Covid is a seasonal virus “for definite” and that a minor return to some restrictions may be needed for the next two or three months.

“Then, when we get to February or March it’s a different story,” he said.

The biggest surprise is that immunity against Covid-19 wanes so quickly, Prof O’Neill said, adding that Ireland should exude the same level of intensity with boosters to people over 50 in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.

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