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Counties on alert and sky-high infections: Seven things we learned from the latest Nphet briefing

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Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health ,pictured this afternoon at the Department of Health at a Covid-19 media briefing..Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Photos

Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health ,pictured this afternoon at the Department of Health at a Covid-19 media briefing..Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Photos

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

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Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health ,pictured this afternoon at the Department of Health at a Covid-19 media briefing..Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Photos

Public health chiefs tonight sounded alarm bells over rising numbers of cases across most age groups.

Meanwhile chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said he would support the wider use of Covid passes and we finally got clarity on antigen testing in schools.

Here are some of the main points from tonight’s briefing from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet):

Stark figures

Some of the main Covid figures from tonight’s briefing are stark:

-the seven day average of cases has doubled in the past fortnight and is three times higher than the peak in October 2020.

-a total of 25,000 cases have been recorded over the past week - the third highest weekly count during the pandemic so far.

-a further 74 deaths were reported over the past week.

Halve your social contacts

Public health chiefs advised to cut out social contacts in half in the coming weeks.

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Dr Holohan said there is a lot of socialising across the population and this is not reducing as it should be.

He said socialisation is at an unsustainable level and public health measures like mask wearing and social distancing are not being adhered to as strictly as they should be.

“If you’re planning to go out two nights in the week, maybe just go out once. If you’re planning to have 10 people in the house for a particular event, maybe just have five,” he said.

Covid passes for gyms and hairdressers

Dr Holohan said he would “of course” be in favour of Covid passes for entry to gyms and hairdressers when asked by Independent.ie.

“Of course we would be in favour, the more we can see assurance of measures in place in different settings, the better,” he said.

“We would have no reason to have any concern about that and there is nothing to stop people in those sectors saying, that’s an additional security and safety measure that I can put in place to protect my staff, to protect my customers, that would be a good thing.”

He said compliance has “slipped” when it comes to enforcing Covid passes across hospitality and nightlife and that this is of “concern”.

Antigen tests in schools

There has finally been some clarity on how antigen testing will work in schools.

Dr Holohan said there won’t be a “widespread” use of antigen testing, for example testing all children twice a week, as has been done in some countries.

Instead antigen tests may be sent to children who are close contacts of confirmed cases.

Deputy chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, also warned parents against using antigen tests for children with symptoms, as they may get a false negative and then send their child into school.

11 counties on Covid alert

Dr Glynn said that Leitrim, Waterford, Carlow, Louth, Laois, Longford, Meath, Westmeath, Donegal, Cork and Kerry currently have a 14-day incidence of over 1,000 per 100,000 cases.

Dr Glynn said that there is a “deterioration” of incidence across all counties.

Where are the cases coming from?

This was the question posed to Dr Glynn by Independent.ie.

He said that due to high levels of incidence, the HSE does not have the capacity to contact trace such high levels of cases and are currently focusing on outbreaks in nursing homes, hospital settings and among vulnerable groups.

He used the example of Leitrim and said that from speaking to public health doctors on the ground there, they said cases are coming from workplaces, social gatherings, weddings, socialising and from outbreaks among vulnerable groups.

“You’re probably at higher risk today in any given situation of being in the company of an infectious person than at any point in the pandemic to date,” he said.

Not vaccinated? Stay away from the Aviva tomorrow

With Ireland set to take on Portugal at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin tomorrow, Dr Holohan said fans who are not vaccinated should “stay away” as they are high-risk.

He said sporting organisations will put in place all the necessary measures to keep spectators safe.

This article was updated on November 10, 2021


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