A LEADING Cork doctor has warned that nobody has immunity to Covid-19 and has said that “none of us have exemptions from the rules” to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Speaking at a briefing this week, Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer with the HSE, said there has been a slow, but steady, increase in Covid-19 cases in Ireland since the end of June.
This is in addition to a change in the profile of cases, with the median age now 31 and with 71% of cases in people younger than 45.
While Dr Henry said that this increase hasn’t translated into the levels of hospitalisation and intensive-care use that was feared, there is no evidence of any change in the transmissibility of the virus.
“The current, steady increase, which is plateauing out, largely driven by initially large outbreaks in a relatively small number of settings, largely workplace settings, in turn seeded out into a much larger number of small outbreaks in the community,” Dr Henry said.
“This is a really strong reminder to all of us of how transmissible this virus is. It hasn’t changed its transmissibility,” he said.
Dr Henry highlighted how many cases are asymptomatic and said “we cannot be the best judges of whether or not we may have the virus, we may transmit the virus, or we may catch the virus, whether or not we have symptoms, and whether or not we are contacts”.
Dr Henry said: “That underpins the message that it’s up to each and every one of us to adhere strongly to those repeated public-health measures of distancing and of basic hygiene actions.”
Dr Henry said that while the likelihood of hospitalisation for Covid-19 increases with age, young people are not immune, and he highlighted the case of Dr Owen O’Flynn, an intern in Cork who became seriously ill after contracting the virus earlier this summer.
The 23-year-old doctor, who is from Bantry, ended up being intubated at the intensive care unit in Cork University Hospital.
Dr O’Flynn is due to share his experiences of being ill at a virtual national Covid-19 research-and-scientific meeting tomorrow.
Hosted by The Intensive Care Society of Ireland, the Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine of Ireland, and the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland, this meeting will focus on the experience and learnings of Irish intensivists (ICU doctors) and anaesthesiologists during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
There will be two online scientific sessions for the medical community to attend, followed by a third session at 12.15pm, which will be open to the public via Zoom.
Dr Henry will also speak at the event, and will discuss lessons learned from the pandemic and reflections on it.