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Health experts say fourth wave of COVID-19 is unlikely in Ireland; further restrictions may be eased because of high uptake of vaccines

DUBLIN: The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) says a fourth wave of coronavirus is unlikely in Ireland. Although there may be “peaks and troughs” of COVID-19 cases in the coming months, “huge waves” are unlikely, according to public health experts. The feat was made possible by the Irish public’s caution, experts added.

This comes as a relief to the government and the people, who had been concerned about the complete reopening of the hospitality sector and schools in the face of mounting delta threats.

Relaxation of travel restrictions and social gatherings resulted in an increase in virus cases in the nation earlier this month. However, Prof. Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said the case numbers appear to be settling and that he does not expect to see a single peak in this fourth wave of the pandemic.

I do think there’s grounds for optimism because it seems to me, quite clearly, that after 18 months or so people are very clearly reading the risk.

Prof. Philip Nolan

Virus dominates in people aged 13 to 34

Prof. Nolan pointed out that the majority of those infected are now young people who have not been vaccinated.

“This is at the moment very much disease of younger people, the incidence is dominated by those aged 19 to 24, followed by those aged 13 to 18, but in that age group it’s mostly 16 and 17-year-olds, followed by those aged 25 to 34,” he said.

Prof Nolan also said that the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals has increased, with an average of 26 people are being admitted to hospital per day. This is double what it was two weeks ago, he added.

He said that, given the number of cases in recent weeks, the number of admissions was fewer than expected. There are less than 20 admissions per 1,000 cases.

Counties with high incidence rate

According to NPHET data, the 14-day incidence rate is particularly high in Donegal and Louth. More than 400 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the last seven days in Dublin, Donegal, Cork, Galway and Louth, the deputy chief medical officer Dr. Ronan Glynn said.

Dr. Glynn said most EU countries, except Ireland and France, had made progress last week in controlling the COVID-19 situation. He added that the outlook for Ireland looks uncertain for the next few weeks.

High uptake of vaccines

Ireland’s chief medical officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, said the country is in the forefront of the world in terms of vaccine uptake. He also indicated that there may soon be a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the country.

He said: “I think, given the progress we’re making in terms of vaccination notwithstanding where we’re at with the disease, we think that we might, in the coming weeks, be in a situation where we’re able to reach the kinds of requirements to enable us to move away from some of the economic and social restrictions.”

Meanwhile, a further 1,408 COVID-19 cases were reported in Ireland yesterday. There are currently 152 COVID-9 patients in hospitals, with 26 in intensive care.

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