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Spread of Delta variant may result in 4,000 COVID-19 cases per day, Tánaiste warns

DUBLIN: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says Ireland has entered the fourth wave of COVID-19 following the spread of the Delta variant. He said no one could say exactly what its impact would be, how long the wave would last and where the peak would be. The Tánaiste predicts that in the coming weeks, Ireland will see up to 4,000 COVID-19 cases per day. However, he believes that any surge of infection would not overwhelm the health-care system.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) confirmed 1,378 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday. “I’m taking the optimistic view that we’ll follow a similar course to Scotland, maybe peak around 3,000 or 4,000 cases in the next few weeks, then fall back and not see hospitalizations rise much above 500, ICU around 50. But we can’t know that for sure,” Mr Varadkar said.

The Tánaiste also urged the people to be cautious in the coming weeks, especially because restrictions on indoor dining will be eased on Monday.  President Michael D. Higgins signed legislation yesterday that will allow indoor hospitality to resume on July 26. People who are fully vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months can dine indoors.

Varadkar said HSE data on COVID-19 hospitalisation is incorrect

Mr Varadkar also said the government is seeking better data on hospitalisations from the HSE. He claims that the number of people in hospitals being treated for COVID is not accurate.

Some people are hospitalised because their appendix has burst or they have broken a leg, not because they are being treated for COVID-19. “It’s essential that we need to find out with better data who’s actually in hospital because they’re being treated for COVID-19 as opposed to who’s COVID positive, which is not quite the same thing,” the Tánaiste added.

There are currently 96 coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals. Of these, 22 are in the intensive care unit.

65% of adults are fully vaccinated

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that 65% of the adult population has now been fully vaccinated, with 75% having received at least one dose.

“We know that COVID-19 vaccines are extraordinarily effective at reducing each person’s individual risk of hospitalisation or severe disease. The Delta variant does not change this,” said Dr Glynn.

“However, this variant is much more transmissible than what we have been dealing with previously and, as such, the challenge remains to protect as many people through vaccination as quickly as possible, across all age groups,” he added.

Glynn advised people to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Anyone over the age of 18 can now register for the vaccine. “When you meet people, keep your distance and meet outside, avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated indoor space, use your judgement, risk assess and leave if you don’t feel safe, wash your hands and wear a mask, isolate and get a test if you have any symptoms – do not go to work or socialise,” the Deputy CMO said.

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