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'Worrying numbers' Up to 3,000 Covid-19 cases expected today, says Professor Philip Nolan

He said that Ireland is in “a very significant surge” and in order for case numbers to drop the country needs to “fully enter into the spirit of the measures introduced by government.”

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The Chair of Nphet’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said the expected figure will contain some of the 9,000 delayed cases flagged by Nphet yesterday. Photo by: Brian Lawless/ PA

The Chair of Nphet’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said the expected figure will contain some of the 9,000 delayed cases flagged by Nphet yesterday. Photo by: Brian Lawless/ PA

The Chair of Nphet’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said the expected figure will contain some of the 9,000 delayed cases flagged by Nphet yesterday. Photo by: Brian Lawless/ PA

Professor Philip Nolan has warned the country to prepare for “worrying numbers” as in excess of 3,000 new cases are expected to be confirmed today.

The Chair of National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet)’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said the expected figure will contain some of the 9,000 delayed cases flagged by the Nphet yesterday.

He said that Ireland is in “a very significant surge” and in order for case numbers to drop the country needs to “fully enter into the spirit of the measures introduced by government.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Saturday with Katie Hannon, Prof Nolan said that up to 6,000 cases a day could be seen at the peak of this third wave, but, if reproduction numbers are “substantially” below one, figures of under 1,000 cases a day could be seen in late January.

Nphet’s modelling did not project the number of cases the country is seeing this early on in the month. When asked if the modelling system should therefore be reviewed, Prof Nolan said “exponential growth is notoriously hard to predict accurately.”

He added that it only requires a “marginal” change in levels of social contact for the difference between 2,000 cases a day and 4,000.

“The bottom line here is that whether we are facing 2,000 cases a day or 4,000 cases a day it’s far too many,” he said.

"It’s more than our health systems or monitoring systems can cope with and it requires the sorts of decisions that government have made in recent days for complete suppression of the virus.”

When asked about the new UK strain of Covid-19, which is not believed by Dr Cillian De Gascun to be responsible for the recent surge in figures, Prof Nolan said it’s “too early to be definitive.”

"It’s too early to be fully definitive about the role of the new variant as we only have limited data. The important thing to note is that it is a threat, we know it’s here in Ireland,” he said.

However, he said: “We saw an even more intense level of socialising over Christmas than we might have expected and that's what's leading us to the very precarious position that we are in now.”

Dr Cillian De Gascun, UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory Director, said yesterday that a small number of samples were tested for the new variant between December 23 and 29.

Nine new cases of the new strain were detected. Out of the 169 samples detected for this new strain to date, 16 have been confirmed, and thus Dr De Gascun said he does not believe this new strain is responsible for “the recent significant and concerning increase” in Covid-19 cases.

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