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Cancel your holiday plans: Holohan plea as cases rise

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Thousands of people who have booked summer holidays abroad are being advised to cancel them amid fears Ireland could be seeing the first signs of a potential resurgence of Covid-19

Thousands of people who have booked summer holidays abroad are being advised to cancel them amid fears Ireland could be seeing the first signs of a potential resurgence of Covid-19

Thousands of people who have booked summer holidays abroad are being advised to cancel them amid fears Ireland could be seeing the first signs of a potential resurgence of Covid-19

Thousands of people who have booked summer holidays abroad are being advised to cancel them amid fears Ireland could be seeing the first signs of a potential resurgence of Covid-19.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan issued the plea amid a small but worrying rise in clusters of travel-related infections and an increase in cases of the virus in young people flouting rules here.

The surprise turnaround in the pattern of infection stoked fears of a potential flare-up in the virus and comes as pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and a range of businesses yesterday welcomed back customers for the first time since March.

One of the clusters has been linked to a person who returned from Iraq and infected others in the north west. The fear now is that as more people go abroad for getaways they will pick up the infection and spread it.

He said: “I know people have made bookings. It would make much more sense not to go ahead.”

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Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Dr Holohan reported 24 new cases of the virus yesterday and no deaths.

The first reversal in the previously downward trend in cases has been spotted in the last five days.

He admitted it was early days and the rise may not be sustained and he was not yet drawing conclusions.

But he said: "We need to watch it very closely and see if it is something we need to do something about. It's the kind of thing we need to pick up early."

A rising proportion of cases are also being seen in young people and one person who tested positive had more than 20 contacts compared to an average of two to three seen in April.

He himself witnessed young people along the Grand Canal in Dublin wedged together near pubs they used to frequent.

The breaches were also not confined to young people and older age groups are socialising, frustrated at the limitations of lockdown, he added.

The last Government promised that a green list of countries would be available by early July which had low levels of virus and would welcome Irish holidaymakers without quarantine restrictions.

Dr Holohan again warned yesterday that popular holiday destinations like France and Italy would not make it to the list and more information is needed from the European Centre for Disease Control which is examining virus spread in EU regions in advance of any air bridge agreements,

Siobhán Killeen, the Dublin GAA footballer who contracted the virus in March and was among the speakers at yesterday's briefing on the virus at the Department of Health said: "I, probably like many others, was naïve in thinking that my age and health would protect me from a very infectious disease."

In a direct message to other young people she said: "The after effects of this disease are very serious, even for those who are fit and healthy. I was in very good health, but it was a very tough battle."

She said younger age groups would not want the guilt of knowing they infected others.

A poll commissioned by the Department of Health showed 45pc now claim they wear face covering, up from 41pc last week.

There is ongoing scepticism about whether this self reported usage is reflected in practice.

More than half of women but just one-third of men say they were covering up.

There is growing concern among people about a resurgence with 64pc thinking there will be a second wave.

One in four wants more restrictions and nearly a third feels the exit from lockdown is moving too fast.

It comes after the country enjoyed the biggest taste of freedom yet yesterday with cities, towns and tourist attractions seeing a spike in activity as people embraced liberties they were denied for months.

However, although commuters were told they should wear face masks on public transport yesterday there was widespread non-compliance.

Dermot O'Leary, general secretary with the National Bus and Rail Union said: "Early evidence from our representatives across Dublin this morning is that many commuters are not adhering to the mandatory policy on face covering.

"The difficulties associated with driving a bus and providing train services are such that to add the potential for confrontation and conflict between staff and passengers could possibly run the risk of compromising the safe operation of our transport services.

"The absence of frontline staff representatives from the decision-making table from the commencement of this crisis has not helped and has only added to the confusion among staff and commuters."

Dr Holohan said it would be a number of days before regulations would be in place to underpin the mandatory rule.

He said people should wear the face coverings on public transport and in shops.

The next stage of the exit from lockdown is due on July 20 when pubs which only sell alcohol are to be allowed open along with other measures.

Irish Independent