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Social events fuel spread of virus in Sligo and Donegal

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The HSE is urging people to “act sensibly” after a number of social gatherings helped fuel a rise in Covid cases in Sligo and Donegal.

Funerals, wakes, house parties and other indoor gatherings have led to outbreaks in the past two weeks.

A new pop-up test centre has been established in Buncrana, which currently has the highest infection rate in the country. Bundoran has also seen a spike in cases.

Dr Anthony Breslin, director of public health for the HSE north-west region, said the Bundoran cases are “linked to small, specific events”.

“We are keeping a close eye on it,” he said, while urging people to continue to follow public health guidance.

“In Sligo we haven’t got confirmation on Delta yet, but everything is pointing towards it,” he told the Irish Independent.

“It started off with a couple of social events and got into the community in general, among people who didn’t have any connection with the first events.

“Their guard was down as there were limited cases there, but it got into the community and spread very quickly.

“In Donegal, it’s in the community. There have been social events, funerals and wakes, and people have been gathering in their homes and having parties.

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“As things open up, it is safe to do things, but do them sensibly. Don’t go to an outdoor pub that is like Grafton Street on Christmas Eve. There are business owners policing it carefully, but people have to watch themselves too.”

Dr Breslin said he expects the case numbers to continue to rise over the next week.

“It’s mirroring what is happening across the Border. Obviously, the North opened up quicker than we did, but if people don’t follow the guidance it just gets in and gets about and that’s it.”

Dr Breslin said there have been a “small number” of young people admitted to hospital, but overall there has not been an increase in hospitalisations in Donegal.

“People can do most things if they do it sensibly. You could, in theory, get 40,000 in Croke Park and space them out. The issue is getting them in and out safely and getting them to and from Dublin safely,” he said.

Judith McGlynn, the coordinator of the pop-up test centre in Buncrana, said there is “some fear in the community”.

“We initially opened the test centre for three days, but we’ve extended that to five due to the demand,” she said yesterday. “We had 197 people for testing on Wednesday and 140 people so far today. It’s giving us a snapshot of the situation.

“I think people are scared and concerned. I think that’s why there has been a large attendance. They know cases are going up.”


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