Cork GP says he would be 'astonished' if new Covid variant not already here as authorities say Ireland is now in third wave

Cork GP says he would be 'astonished' if new Covid variant not already here as authorities say Ireland is now in third wave

HEALTH officials have voiced grave concerns over the current Covid-19 trends, with the chair of the Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Philip Nolan, last night confirming: “We’re clearly now in a third wave of this pandemic, with very rapidly rising case numbers.”

HEALTH officials have voiced grave concerns over the current Covid-19 trends, with the chair of the Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Philip Nolan, last night confirming: “We’re clearly now in a third wave of this pandemic, with very rapidly rising case numbers.”

The Department of Health announced 727 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday evening, and said there had been an 82% increase in the five-day rolling average of cases.

Speaking at the briefing, Department of Health chief medical officer Tony Holohan described the disease trends as “gravely concerning”.

“The situation has deteriorated rapidly in recent days,” said Dr Holohan.

“A total of 3,837 cases have been notified in the past seven days.”

Dr Nolan said that the virus was transmitting very rapidly and “faster than we have seen at any point since March”.

Cork GP and former lord mayor John Sheehan said he was concerned about an increase in cases over the Christmas period.

Cork GP and former lord mayor John Sheehan said he was concerned about an increase in cases over the Christmas period.Picture Dan Linehan
Cork GP and former lord mayor John Sheehan said he was concerned about an increase in cases over the Christmas period.Picture Dan Linehan

Dr Sheehan continued: “I think the big concern is that if it’s up now, in two weeks after Christmas, and when the numbers start shooting up into the thousands, and will that leave us in big trouble, and I think that’s where their concern is: the rate of increase.”

Consular flights to bring residents to Ireland 

Meanwhile, the Government has announced a number of consular flights from Britain to bring stranded Irish residents to Ireland.

On Sunday, a 48 hour travel ban on all flights and ferries from the UK was announced in an attempt to stop the spread of a variant of Covid-19 which has been discovered in the UK.

The travel ban on flights and passenger ferries has forced many Corkonians to cancel their Christmas travel plans as many European countries attempt to stop the spread of the variant.

Last night, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, announced a minimum of two consular flights from the UK which will take place this evening and will be operated by Irish airlines.

The flights will also be accessible to Irish-bound passengers who are transiting through British airports who have also become stranded.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Transport are also making arrangements with ferry companies to give some Irish residents exceptional access to ferry services.

People who are eligible to travel are asked to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs on +353 1 6131700.

Making new plans for Christmas 

Most people, however, will still not make it home following the ban which is expected to be implemented for longer than 48 hours.

Jen O’Mahony, who works as an occupational therapist in Glasgow was due to fly home to Ireland today, however, she is now planning a last-minute Christmas in Glasgow.

“I was gutted alright for sure because I was really looking forward to getting home but I think as well, I did take positives out of it,” she said.

“Obviously, we want to keep everywhere as safe as possible and what it has done is probably a good thing in one sense because they do want to reduce the cases.”

Cork nurse Niamh O’Neill, who is now living in London, is preparing to spend Christmas alone after her plans to fly home on Christmas Eve were quashed by the ban.

A Cork nurse working in London has said she is likely to spend Christmas on her own this year. Niamh O’Neill, who is originally from Mallow, Co Cork, had been hoping to see her family this Christmas. 
A Cork nurse working in London has said she is likely to spend Christmas on her own this year. Niamh O’Neill, who is originally from Mallow, Co Cork, had been hoping to see her family this Christmas. 

Speaking to BBC 5 Live, the nurse described the announcement of the ban as “quite disheartening”.

“Obviously, a rise in infection we have to try and keep numbers down but at the same time it just seems so sudden and I think people had got their hopes up,” she said, “and those who had been adhering to the rules and regulations, it’s quite disheartening, especially for those of us who haven’t seen their families in a long time as well.”

GP would be 'astonished' if new wave not already in Ireland 

Dr John Sheehan has said that he would be “astonished” if the variant of the virus was not already in Ireland.

“I think it’s absolutely very likely that we get the variant and it is probably here already giving the connectivity between us and the number of people who go over and back and giving the way that the virus spreads,” he said.

“I would be astonished if it wasn’t here already and I think it will happen, but I think it is important to get into perspective if we get the new variant, all it means is that we need to double down our efforts in terms of reducing the risk of infections.”

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