'Perfect storm' says expert as Cork records more Covid cases in last two weeks than whole of last year

'Perfect storm' says expert as Cork records more Covid cases in last two weeks than whole of last year

AXA Research Chair of Applied Pathogen Ecology at University College Cork (UCC) Professor Gerry Killeen has been warning of such a surge since early March upon reading reports from Chinese physicians which, written in English, described in detail what was in store. Reports, which he said made his blood run cold

A Cork-based infectious disease expert has said that surging Covid cases in the county seen over the last two weeks “make sense epidemiologically” with the UK variant being a “minor contributor so far”.

Cork has recorded more cases of Covid-19 in the previous two weeks than it had recorded since the beginning of the pandemic up to that two-week period.

The total number of cases recorded in Cork in the two-week period from December 28 to January 10 was 7,911 with the total number of cases recorded in the county up to and including January 10 standing at 15,357.

The number of people who contracted Covid-19 in Cork since the beginning of the pandemic up to and including December 28 was 7,446, meaning that the number of people with Covid-19 in the last two weeks has surged.

AXA Research Chair of Applied Pathogen Ecology at University College Cork (UCC) Professor Gerry Killeen has been warning of such a surge since early March upon reading reports from Chinese physicians which, written in English, described in detail what was in store. Reports, which he said made his blood run cold.

Speaking to The Echo from Tanzania where he is currently working on malaria transmission control, he said that the current situation “makes sense epidemiologically” following the Government’s “technically non-viable plan and the terrible decisions”.

“If you wanted to design the perfect storm, this is how you would do it. You would open the pubs and the restaurants for a knackered population full of frustration three weeks in advance of Christmas. You would brew up a nice reservoir of the virus in relatively non-vulnerable populations and then you mix them all up together around Christmas itself and then it goes through three generations at a time.

“Contract tracers haven't seen anything like it before in the pandemic, it's the first time that they are following up entire families, three generations at a time and they are phoning every context there is, households, funerals, wedding, work places, you name it,” he said.

As of 8pm on Tuesday, there were a total of 142 Covid-19 positive patients at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and 43 Covid-19 positive patients at the Mercy University Hospital (MUH).

There were 10 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and one suspected case of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at CUH, and four confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at MUH with no suspected cases of Covid-19.

There were no critical beds available at CUH or at MUH with 20 general beds available at CUH and 10 at MUH.

Nationally, there were 158 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Critical Care Units and seven suspected Covid-19 cases in Critical Care Units across the country.

There was one Covid-19 death in Critical Care Units in the 24 hour period up to 8pm on Tuesday.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 ventilated cases was 89, with two suspected Covid-19 ventilated cases across the country.

Professor Killeen said that people need to adhere to guidelines in order to get the third wave under control and prevent hospitals from collapsing.

“We need to make sure that we hold the hardest set of restrictions that we can to make sure that the fourth wave does not burst through the third wave in about two weeks from now.

“The new variant has been a minor contributor so far but if our restrictions are enough to hold back the old variant but not enough to hold back the new variant then what you'll see is it will peak again in about two weeks from now and then you'd get your fourth wave emerging from the third wave.

“I’m strongly in favour of just throwing the kitchen sick at this right now rather than waiting for a fourth wave and then having to go to the kitchen and having to unscrew the plumbing,” he said.

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