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In four weeks, Ireland could see up to 2,000 COVID-19 victims a day – NPHET warns

DUBLIN: Disclosure that the NPHET had given a stern notice to the government prior to announcing a slight relaxation of the Level-5 COVID-19 restrictions.

The government has announced exemptions since April 12, to some extent, ignoring NPHET’s warnings that the COVID infection could escalate if it announces even a small relaxation.

The National Public Health Emergency Team warns that in four weeks, Ireland could see up to 2,000 COVID-19 victims a day.

The cabinet meeting yesterday agreed to grant some general exemptions to the level five COVID restrictions that have been in effect since December.

Situation in Ireland is dangerous

The pandemic situation in Ireland is very dangerous. “There are a number of reasons for this. First, the level of infection is high, with a 5-day average case count of 620 cases per day and a 14-day cumulative incidence of 165 per 100,000. This is substantially higher than when restrictions were eased after previous waves of infection — approximately twice that experienced in early December 2020, and 50 times that in late June 2020,” the NPHET said.

Another reason is the dominance of the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant. Virus transmission and R rates (reproductive number) are 30-70% higher than in 2020. Thirdly, the R number is already more than one.

“The high level of infection significantly increases the risk associated with any increase in social contact and reproduction number. If reproduction number increases, the number of new infections per day will rise very quickly from this high baseline.” NPHET made this clear in the modeling figures presented to the government.

“The high starting point of 600 cases per day means that case numbers rise rapidly to over 2,000 per day within 4 weeks. Starting at 200 cases per day, case counts increase to 700 cases per day after 4 weeks, it takes 7 weeks to reach 2,000 per day.”

Vaccination is the only hope

If everything goes well with the vaccination programme, the risk can be reduced from May 2021. NPHET says the cases can be suppressed from June to August. However, they say that the next eight weeks will be crucial.

NPHET also warns that if there is a significant increase in indoor social mixing, there will be another wave similar to the one that occurred in October of last year or in January of this year.

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