A CORK GP has welcomed the decision to delay the reopening of indoor dining.
The return of indoor service in bars, restaurants and other indoor activities such as group exercise, training and dance, which had been due to resume on July 5, has been delayed until at least July 19 but no exact date has yet been confirmed.
The Taoiseach said Nphet’s advice was based on modelling in the context of the new Delta variant, which is more transmissible than previous strains.
Dr Nuala O’Connor of Elmwood Medical Practice in Frankfield, who is also the Covid-19 lead for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), said that she agrees with the decision.
“We have made huge progress in Ireland combating Covid-19. The numbers of people in hospital and intensive care with Covid are very low, with 49 on Monday, and we have very few outbreaks in our nursing homes.
“Many of our most vulnerable citizens are protected by vaccination. Forty-two percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated but Covid is still in our communities and the five-day rolling average of daily cases has increased.
“Eighty-four percent of the cases are in those under 45 years of age, most of whom have not yet been vaccinated or only received one vaccine which we know is not sufficient protection against the Delta variant.
“We just need to be careful for another few weeks so that we can get more people vaccinated as this is our ultimate weapon against Covid-19. We need to avoid the high-risk situations of indoor socialising where we know this virus spreads more easily and instead enjoy socialising and activities that we know are much less risky,” she said.
Dr O’Connor said that while the decision is “very difficult for those in the hospitality industry”, that persisting with outdoor activities for another few weeks until more people are vaccinated would see us then “being able to return to indoor dining and socialising with much greater confidence that we will not have to reverse this decision in the future”.
She warned people that because the numbers have been reasonably stable over the last seven weeks it is easy to forget that Ireland has the fourth-highest 14-day incidence in Europe.
“The Delta variant is 40 to 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant. In the modelling projections from Nphet the optimistic scenario is associated with 81,000 (23,000 to 231,000) cases between July 1, and September 30, 2021; 1,530 (1,400 to 1,660) admissions to hospital; 195 (150 to 250) admissions to ICU; and 250 (215 to 290) deaths.
“Most of these will occur in our younger unvaccinated population but as the numbers rise, older vaccinated people will also get infected as no vaccine is 100% protective,” she said.