Forgo traditional multigenerational get togethers this Christmas, urges Cork expert amid rise in Covid-19 cases 

Forgo traditional multigenerational get togethers this Christmas, urges Cork expert amid rise in Covid-19 cases 

Prof. Gerry Killeen, AXA Research Chair in ApplieD Pathogen Ecology, UCC  is urging people to forgo a traditional multigenerational get together this Christmas to stop the spread of Covid-19. Picture Denis Minihane.

A Cork-based expert in infectious diseases is urging people to forgo a traditional multigenerational get together this Christmas to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Professor Gerry Killeen, AXA Research Chair in Applied Pathogen Ecology at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UCC, said the rising cases of the coronavirus here are a definite cause for concern and that while the figures don’t surprise his brain, he couldn’t help feel emotional about the seriousness of the situation.

“As grim as it is, I am asking people to stay at home and avoid multi-generational meetups.”

 The infectious diseases expert said that he was worried about the growing spread of the virus.

“What worries me is the more we spread it, the harder it will be to get it under control and harder to get out of it.” 

Mr Killeen acknowledged we were in the third wave, but said if it comes to a fourth wave and the new mutated strain hits Ireland, it will be a force to be reckoned with.

“The fourth wave is likely to be a wild ride of which we have not seen the likes of yet.”

For those who are committed to travelling for Christmas, Mr Killeen said ensure rooms are well ventilated and avoid overnight stays.

“These things will add up. Wear a mask sitting down watching TV and sit households apart.” 

Mr Killeen said collectively we need to reassess our strategy against the virus.

“I would encourage people to go after an elimination strategy like countries such as China, New Zealand, Iceland, South Korea and Fiji.” 

Stark warning from NPHET

Last night, health officials last night warned that the current Covid-19 epidemiological situation is “the most serious it has been since last March”.

A total of 938 new cases of the virus were reported last night, 110 of which are in Cork.

Thirteen additional Covid-related deaths were also notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre yesterday.

 Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group and Dr Cillian De Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laborator..Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
 Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group and Dr Cillian De Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laborator..Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) met yesterday and reviewed the current Covid-19 epidemiological situation before making recommendations to the Government.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said last night that the situation is “the most serious it has been since last March”.

“The disease has spread across all parts of the country and all age groups; we must act now to protect each other,” said Dr Glynn.

“It is inevitable that people will get sick and die as a result of this escalation.

“It is not too late for all of us to do all we can to minimise that impact and to protect as many people as possible.”

Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group chair Professor Philip Nolan said that the reproduction number is higher than had been reported since March, at 1.5 to 1.8.

Preliminary data suggests new variant in Ireland 

Medical virologist and National Virus Reference Laboratory director Dr Cillian De Gascun said last night that indications suggest the new variant of coronavirus identified in the UK is most likely present in Ireland.

“Preliminary data would suggest, based on a selection of samples analysed from the weekend, that the novel variant from the UK is present in Ireland,” said Dr De Gascun.

However, he said that it is unlikely that the novel variant is solely responsible for the recent increase in case numbers seen here.

Appeal for people to revise plans 

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, appealed to people to revise their Christmas plans amid the soaring Covid-19 case numbers.

"Every indicator of the disease is rising and rising rapidly.

"Our level of concern continues to escalate.

"We must do all we can individually and collectively to change the course of this disease," he said.

"Revise your Christmas plans to ensure social contacts are limited and that hand hygiene, physical distance, ventilation and face covering measures are in place if you must have visitors to your home," he continued.

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