Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan is worried about a trend of young people testing positive for Covid-19 after an overnight spike in cases this weekend.
He has urged people to act responsibly when the country enters a new phase in its battle with the virus tomorrow.
New figures released last night showed another 23 confirmed cases of the virus nationwide – the biggest daily increase for two weeks. It means there have been 25,437 cases here in total since the crisis began.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) also confirmed it has been informed of another six Covid-19 related deaths, bringing the total here since the crisis began to 1,734.
Dr Holohan expressed concern about the 23 new cases, as people aged under-35 accounted for almost half of the new positive tests. He has moved to warn against complacency. There is concern that the reopening of pubs serving food, as well as cafes, restaurants and other amenities and businesses will lead to a second wave of Covid-19 cases if people do not act responsibly. Dr Holohan described yesterday’s case load as “a real concern”.
“In recent days, for example, some cases have had large numbers of close contacts that have required testing and self-isolation for 14 days. This is now a real concern and a worrying trend at a time when many people are reconnecting with friends and loved ones and may be gathering in larger groups,” he said.
“Covid-19 is an infection that affects all ages and it is incumbent on all of us to take our individual responsibility seriously.”
People aged under 35 years old made up 43pc of the 23 new cases confirmed by the HPSC last night. People aged between 35 and 54 accounted for another eight cases – more than a third of the total cases. “I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to remain informed, keep a two-metre distance from others, and follow the public health advice on hand washing, cough and sneeze hygiene, and on wearing face coverings,” Dr Holohan said.
The HSE is now working on contact tracing, to notify people who may have come in contact with one of the new cases.
Dr Holohan had previously warned against foreign travel, as it could lead to a spike in imported cases if people travel to areas where the virus is not under control. He suggested that people holiday in Ireland, saying that he would be “beyond nervous” about air travel.
A series of “air bridges” with certain other countries are set to open from July 9. However, a list of these countries has not yet been prepared, as an outbreak in one state may mean travel there would have to be halted. Until then, anyone travelling from abroad will have to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Ireland. This quarantine period will not apply to “air bridge” countries.
Phase three of the plan to reopen the country starts tomorrow. It means pubs and hotel bars operating as restaurants can reopen with the remaining pubs pencilled in to open in mid-July.
Tourism activity can also recommence with hotels, caravan parks and hostels allowed to return. Restrictions on gatherings will also be eased, with up to 50 people allowed to attend indoor gatherings and groups of 200 permitted outdoors.
Source: Irish News