Aspects of Irish lockdown ‘too loose,’ prof says

Meanwhile, the HSE's chief described a 'good start' to the weekend over Covid-19 hospital numbers
Aspects of Irish lockdown ‘too loose,’ prof says

Certain aspects of Ireland’s coronavirus lockdown remain “too loose” and need to be tightened to see a drop in case numbers, according to a UCD professor.

Julien Mercille, a member of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (Isag), said current case numbers are at a plateau.

On Friday evening, 473 new Covid-19 cases and 34 deaths were confirmed, with three of the deaths occurring this month.

“To bring the cases down further, I mean we have the hotel quarantine - that needs to be much more comprehensive, that’s one thing,” Prof Mercille said.

“But also aspects of the lockdown are... too loose, so there’s still workplaces that bring people in for example - so that’s the kind of thing that we could do a bit better.”

It comes as the Cabinet agreed to add several European countries, as well as the USA and Canada, to the State’s mandatory hotel quarantine list at a specially convened meeting on Friday night.

Meanwhile, the head of the health service Paul Reid described a “good start” to the weekend as Covid-19 hospital numbers continued to fall.

The number of people hospitalised with the virus has fallen by almost a quarter since the start of the month, with the latest figures showing 208 inpatients, including 51 in intensive care units.

“We could be on a good trend with the early benefits of the vaccines reducing the sickness levels for the most vulnerable. The light is shining a little brighter for now,” Mr Reid tweeted.

Testing

Four new walk-in Covid-19 testing centres opened across the country at 11am today, located in Mulhuddart and Ballyfermot in Dublin, St Joseph's Health Campus in Limerick City and WIT College Street Campus in Waterford.

The HSE is aiming to carry out 300 to 500 tests per day at each centre, with its national lead for testing and tracing Niamh O'Beirne saying the centres are designed to detect those who are asymptomatic.

“They’re gone down really well in the communities that they’ve opened them in so far, they’ve really raised awareness around Covid,” she told Newstalk radio.

Ms O’Beirne reported over 635 positive results detected from the centres around the country to date, with “strong representations” of people in the 25 to 40 age bracket coming forward for testing.

Meanwhile, the country’s acting chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has urged those experiencing any symptoms to isolate and contact their GP.

Anyone exposed to coronavirus at Easter will now be at their most infectious, he said in a tweet.

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