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Don't blame young people for Covid-19 rise, says acting Chief Medical Officer

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Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn. Photo: Frank McGrath

Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn. Photo: Frank McGrath

Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn. Photo: Frank McGrath

The ‘narrative of blame’ around young people amid increased coronavirus cases must be countered, the acting Chief Medical Officer has insisted.

Young people are going to work and are meeting more contacts than others as the economy opens, Dr Ronan Glynn said.

“There’s no doubt we have seen a deteriorating situation over the past couple of months, since the start July, and it’s no surprise that we’re seen more cases as restrictions were eased,” he told the Dáil coronavirus committee.

“All of that is entirely normal. I want to counter this narrative of blame that has grown up around young people. Younger people go out of work. They run our Health service, they run our Education service. They keep our society going.

“They come into contact with other people. And so, by the very nature of our lives, we will see more cases in young people.

“But that said, we have grown increasingly concerned at the number of more cases we are seeing. At heart we are asking people to cut down their discretionary social contacts.

“If the number of cases continues to rise it will inevitably lead to more cases in older people are the medically vulnerable, and they have to be our central focus,” he said.

“If our number of cases continues to rise we would be concerned about the effect that would have in admissions to hospital, to critical care, and unfortunately, mortality.”

On schools, Dr Glynn said he could not speak to individual institutions, but it was recognised that social distancing was impractical for young children, and this should not deter parents from sending their children to school.

He admitted that the numbers of those coming forward for testing as close contacts of a confirmed case started at 85 per cent but then dropped to half a week later for a re-test.

Testing was 'absolutely vital,' he said, urging people to continue with the programme, regardless of the initial result. “It doesn’t change what people need to do. We want people to come forward for tests.”

Those who develop suspicious symptoms should not “do the traditional thing” and wait and see what develops.” People should “put their hand up immediately,” by ringing their GP and awaiting a test.

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