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Five things we learned from tonight’s Nphet briefing


Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) this evening sounded the alarm about levels of socialisation being at the highest level during the pandemic so far.

We also heard about increasing infection rates among nearly all age groups and how schools are still deemed to be safe environments.

Here are the five main takeaways from the latest briefing from public health officials:

Cut down social contacts

Public health doctors tonight warned for the public to cut down on their social contacts in a bid to drive down rising numbers of daily cases.

The mid-term break from school and college has contributed to very high case counts, which have not yet translated into an increase in hospital patients or deaths.

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Public health chiefs also warned that current levels of socialisation now are higher than they were before the pandemic.

Professor Philip Nolan added that the infection is spreading because “we have all increased our social contact and perhaps because we are not as attentive to risk reduction measures”.

Dr Tony Holohan said that there is a need to “dial down” social contacts.

This is due to a “very, very high force of infection”, according to modelling chief Prof Philip Nolan.

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He said that there has been a 25pc increase in case counts between last week and this week and that there was over 15,000 cases reported just last week.

The virus incidence is currently “very high and increasing”, he said, with the future trajectory of the virus being “very uncertain”.

Demand for testing remains very high, according to public health officials.

There are approximately 60 people being admitted to hospitals on average per week and the numbers of deaths are also expected to rise as a result of high infection levels.

10,000 cases per day - if there was no vaccine immunity

Professor Nolan said that if there was no immunity from the vaccine, there could be over 40,000 daily cases in just over a week.

He said that within four to five days, there would be upwards of 10,000 cases per day if people “freely mixed in society”.

He said that four days later, there could be as many as 40,000 cases per day.

“Unimaginable numbers, in a way,” he said.

Daily cases of around 3,000 to continue for at least 10 days

High daily cases are set to continue for at least another 10 days, according to Professor Nolan.

He said that the cases which will be reported over the next 10 days have “already been pre-determined”.

“All we know is how virus was transmitting 10 days ago,” he said.

Professor Nolan also said that there is no guarantee that cases will plateau and eventually fall.

He said that his modelling, which includes many variables, shows that a peak in November could be between 2,000 to 5,000 cases.

Vaccinated people are just as infectious as unvaccinated people

UCD virologist Dr Cillian de Gascun said this evening that data from the UK and Israel is showing that vaccinated people who have contracted the virus are just as infectious as unvaccinated people.

However, he said that the period of infection in people who are fully vaccinated is shorter.

Dr de Gascun said that vaccines are “very effective against preventing severe disease and hospitalisation and also infection”.

He said that vaccines are around 75pc effective at preventing infection six months after being fully vaccinated.

However, data from the UK and Israel shows that the people who are vaccinated and get infected have a “viral load” which is the same as people who are not vaccinated, but the period where they may pass the virus on to others is shorter.

Warning against going to nightclubs more than once every 10 to 14 days

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned against going to a nightclub more than once every 10 to 14 days.

Speaking this evening, Dr Holohan said that “high-risk” activities should be followed up by “low-risk activities” as he said that social contacts should be cut down amid rising cases.

Dr Holohan said that nightclubs are “higher-risk” activities as there are crowds of people indoors.

“If you’re not going to nightclubs more frequently than once every ten days or once a fortnight in terms of transmission that would make sense,” he said.

“But going to nightclubs every second or third night - if that’s something that there may well people who do that and want to do that doing - that would constitute probably too high a level of.. And you’re mixing with a lot of other people in those kind of environment.”

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