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Progress stalled in driving down coronavirus rates – chief medical officer

Dr Tony Holohan said too many people were going to work who could work from home.

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Dr Tony Holohan warned too many people were going into worplaces with Covid-19 symptoms (Ben Birchall/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan warned too many people were going into worplaces with Covid-19 symptoms (Ben Birchall/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan warned too many people were going into worplaces with Covid-19 symptoms (Ben Birchall/PA)

Progress in driving down Ireland’s rate of coronavirus infection has “stalled”, the chief medical officer has said.

Dr Tony Holohan warned too many people were going to workplaces who could work from home and expressed concern about those with Covid-19 symptoms going into the office.

He said a week had been lost during the spell of tough lockdown measures and urged people to reduce their number of social contacts.

He said: “In our objective to use a six-week period to drive down Covid-19 infection in the community, our progress has stalled in the last week.

“We now have two weeks to get back on track.”

Another 429 Covid-19 cases have been detected in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team said.

Four more deaths have been recorded.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said it was in the national character to go to work and see if symptoms go away.

He warned: “It is a habit.

“People think ‘I will give it a day and see how we go’.

“We really need a step change in how we approach symptoms like fever, coughing, shortness of breath, this winter.”

Dr Holohan called for a collective final push to drive the infection rate down.

“There is still time for us to make up that ground.

“People are telling you stories that car parks are full and canteens are full.

“People are really not listening to this message and they are meeting up unnecessarily.

“Many people who can work from home are choosing not to do so.”

Dr Holohan said people’s sense of fear had reduced, they were suffering from pandemic fatigue and there had been “hopeful” announcements from vaccine companies which could send the message to take the foot off the gas.

“People are tired of this, it has been going on for a long time.”

He said Ireland was doing well relative to many other countries in Europe.

As of 2pm on Thursday, 290 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 33 were in intensive care units.

The health service had registered 15 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Professor Philip Nolan, who models spread of the disease for the Government, said for three weeks case numbers had declined at a rate of 5% to 7% per day, producing a reproduction number as low as 0.6.

He added: “We are aware that case numbers have now stopped declining and as a consequence the reproduction number has increased to an estimated 0.7 to 0.9.

“The data strongly suggests that a small, recent increase in the level of social contacts has led to the increase in reproduction number we see now.

“A small additional effort to reduce our contacts will make a big difference to reduce disease incidence before December 1.”

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